Actors, Directors, and Props – Create a Hit in 5 Minutes

The Secret Theater of Work (STOW) is largely based on the writings of film directors, whose unique visions not only entertain, but, in dazzling moments of cinematic brilliance, also change the way we see the world.

Actors have always been in the spotlight, but the Director, the auteur, is also in the public eye. And, of course, in the case of household names such as George Clooney and Clint Eastwood, Actors have also been known to step behind the camera, thereby blurring the line between these roles.

This post is about the Actors in any given work situation, the players who make up a meeting or key presentation. These people, no matter how mundane the meeting or small the group, have their “Motivation.” They have a goal. There is something on their minds, something they are trying to accomplish–even if it is simply to GET OUT of the meeting at the very first opportunity.

In our framework for STOW, our reader will be targeted as the Director, and often as an Actor/Director. The Director hat is reserved for the person who is outlining how the “Scene” will work (what will happen) and who will preplan, to the extent possible, how the meeting will reveal itself to the audience.

Many leadership meetings have a person thrust into a role (as Actor) for which he or she isn’t ready or fully prepared for. The person is winging the conversation, flipping through slides (usually reading bullets), and unsure exactly when or how to “Make the Ask” of the room. Let’s not forget that the person usually has not dressed in a way to influence the room, as he or she probably hasn’t spent much time IN this room, with these key people.

So, in five minutes, what can you do to turn this scene around? Follow the four basic elements of directing the scene: Script, Staging, Props, and Chemistry.

  • Script what you want the outcome to be and what you want one or two key people to do toward that end (prework it with them if you can). Build a message map for yourself (details to come).
  • Stage where you and your partners will sit in the room (to execute the script) in context to the leaders or audience you are trying to influence. Be there at least 10 minutes early to ensure the proper setup.
  • Props: bring something tactile into the conversation (a white board, a poster or supergraphic, a physical prop) just to change the dynamic. Leave PowerPoint behind whenever possible.
  • Chemistry: rely on creating great chemistry with the influencers, either yourself or other actors who believe in the cause. Create the energy, and at least open the door to your outcome, even if you can’t pull it off in the first meeting. Rest assured, if you connect with the audience, they will be open to having you back again.
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