In the accounting mindset, there is only one answer. The books either balance or they don’t balance. I guess this is what I have always found so satisfying about our craft. Ah, the symmetry of it all!
Artists as well as other creative types on the other hand seem to have a problem with this concept. For them, there are lots of possible answers to each and every question, some of which contradict the others. How untidy, don’t you agree?
As we move away from our core skill of certainty into the world of marketing our backgrounds, it is hard to make the conceptual break. Not only is there not one right resume, there is no right 90-second announcement and no right cover letter.
All of these “communication tools” need to be under constant review and improvement. Not a comfortable concept to be sure, but one the creative community subscribes to, and in this case they are right.
I once read an article by an actor contrasting his experiences as an actor in the movies as compared to the theatre where he played the same role for almost a year. If you think he preferred his roles in movies more than the theatre, you would be wrong.
What he really enjoyed was the opportunity to modify and improve his performance. The significant hand gesture; voice inflection; pacing of the action — all were in his control and he modified them at various times and then gauged how various audiences responded to the changes.
In much the same way, you need to always be working on your communications and through a series of successive approximations come to an understanding of how best to present your credentials. Sometimes you need to shorten your “skit.” Sometimes you need to drag it out. It varies by audience and situation and you need to build your own mental flexibility to try and to be comfortable trying different approaches.
It isn’t easy.
At our meetings here in Westport, one of my great pleasures is to see this process in action. As our regular attendees spin their stories, I smile to myself to see the growth. Practice makes perfect, as they say. The more you “try out your story,” the more opportunities you have to make changes to it.
The first time, even if it is written well, you are sort of reading it. It is only later after many presentations that you can relax enough to actually listen to yourself and watch the reaction around the room and make changes “on the fly.”
We have meetings in lots of places. I hope you take advantage and attend as many as possible.
That way, when you take your show on the road, you will be one polished actor!