Play To The Critic

When a critic is in the house, stage actors can become unnerved. Some go absolutely bonkers and display their acting technique in florid color, like a male peacock fanning his tail feathers in mating season. The role loses its integrity and the entire production suffers. We say that actor was "playing to the critic." It is not a compliment.

As trainers, we've as seen this behavior in murder trials, political rallies, conferences, and even networking meetings. Speakers lose sight of their purpose, or they're derailed by nerves. They mirror what they perceive the audience wants, and lose the integrity of their presentation.

Ignore the critic, decision-maker, or competition. Establish and hold one clear intention. Feel free to improvise in the moment, but don't pump it up if you're getting laughs, or tamp it down if you sense you're not connecting. Hew close to your purpose and trust what you've created. Keep the courage of your convictions. As we say in the theatre, "Critics want to be cooks, but can't take the heat in the kitchen."

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