Product Management and Theater: Is There Anything in Common?

What can be common between any business and theatrical performance? Can a product manager behave like an experienced actor?

This interesting topic was discussed in April Mindtheproduct post that compared the author’s experience and the experience of Sailesh Panchal, CTO at digital payments firm Orwell Group.

It’s amazing but the background in acting may help the business leadership in many ways.

Product managers may use the theatre-based training to boost their presentation skills, influence, and creativity.

7 cases when acting techniques can help

There are 7 areas where PMs can benefit from acting techniques.

  1. Thinking on Your Feet

This applies to communication as much as innovation. The spontaneity is a quality that can become stronger with practice. Whether you’re called upon at the last minute to give a speech or respond to a conversation in a meeting, you’ll be less likely to be knocked back by the unexpected if you’re practiced in thinking on your feet.

  1. High-Performance Teams

Business as theatre is a team activity of creative individuals focused on a common goal.

The schedules in a theatre are usually tight and the roles are defined. Like a theatre director, a product manager needs to ensure that everyone from his/her team is committed to the vision early. The team needs to know their parameters and have the required resources.

  1. Creative Thinking

Improvisation techniques are the base for building on ideas and creating a plan.

  1. Active Listening

Active listening combines reading subtext and body language as well as listening closely to the words themselves. It’s an important skill in handling objections and developing influence.

  1. Pausing

Speakers in some cultures like to fill up pauses.

Actors know exactly what they can do in that gap.

There are several situations when pausing holds considerable influence: presenting, pitching, giving feedback and negotiations, etc.

Using pause when presenting holds with it a certain confidence and power. It also allows the audience to take in what you’ve said.

  1. Storytelling

The skill is in finding the right story to support the point, and then tell it engagingly, using expressive vocal and body language, whilst being authentic.

  1. Identity

By experimenting with different identities, you’ll be more prepared to cope with a wider range of people and situations.

We have many diverse characters within us but usually, it’s the couple with the most persistent voices that we hear most of the time.  The trick is locating the right character for the right job.

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