I was recently listening to a podcast about the book "Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die" by Chip Heath and Dan Heath.
Inside the book, Chip and Dan talk about a model that they found that big businesses, CEO's, marketers, and social media managers use to communicate their ideas effectively and persuasively.
So I'd like to share this model with you guys today and talk about how we can use this model as actors to leverage more success in our careers. You'll see how closely this model of communication relates to an actor's success both inside and outside the audition room.
Here's the model:
So what's this model mean? Each letter corresponds to a core principle used in the process of communicating effectively. Following this model of communication, we can start to understand some of the reasons why people are so compelled to listen to some while completely unreceptive to others.
S. - Simple
Simple is easy to understand. It gets the point across without any additional fluff. Simple makes your messages more powerful because it's easy to understand. It pares down your message to it's most important values. To relate this idea to acting, you often find the principle of simplicity used in story writing. Usually, the character in a film will have one big driving "why" - or what is called their OBJECTIVE. It is what the character WANTS and defines their character. Although it might sound counter-intuitive, to make a really complex character that people can empathize with, you need to start out with a simple "why" and then flesh it out.
So for actors, the way we can use this principle of Simple is by clearly defining the "Why" of characters. Making sure that we take the time and really flesh out their background, story, and driving factors. The more simple it is, the more powerful the emotion and weirdly enough the more complex we can make a character.
U. - Unexpected
Unexpected is a bit tricky to define. To make your message stick, you need to make it unique. Actors can embody this principle by really leaning into their own quirks as a human - being authentically yourself in those given circumstances. You are never really "playing another character," you are playing yourself in those given circumstances, with those heightened stakes... being you IS WHAT MAKES SCENES MAGICAL. YOU ARE ENOUGH. Meryl Streep usually has a secret about her character that is hers and hers alone...
For sitcom, the "Unexpected" rule happens a lot. It's also known as a "bait and switch," or a "Turn."
C. - Concrete
Concrete means wording your ideas in a way that is as down to earth as possible using as many sensing words as possible. Sensing words mean talking about your ideas in a way that you draw the audience in with their senses in as many ways as possible. You want the audience to be able to feel, hear, see, taste, and touch your ideas. As an actor, if you feel it and sense it specifically, your audience will too. How does your character see, hear, touch, taste, smell, and experience the world?
C. - Credible
Credibility means trust. Can people trust your message? If people can trust your message, you can get your ideas through. You can think of credibility as a bridge that connects you and the other person through trust. If they trust you, you can bring them to your side. Trust forms from congruency in your character and it works the same way in acting.
In film and tv, characters that we really latch on to are the ones that seem authentic. We understand where they are coming from.
E. - Emotional
In the same way that credibility builds trust, emotion evokes interest. You need your listener to be able to see the world through your lens and have them step into your shoes to create an emotional connection. As actors, emotions are our toolbox and our sandbox to play in.
S. - Stories
Stories are sacred. Stories captivate people. They're how we connect with each other and empathize with each other. They encourage us to step into another person's world and see it through their eyes. Stories transcend time by bringing us to one moment and showing us how that person felt and what they thought. They're a vulnerable and genuine time capsule that we can look into.
Acting is storytelling, one moment at a time.