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What’s Your Verbal Action?

On being intentional with your words and creating your desired impact.

To Ignite. To inspire. To Spark. To Kindle. To Trigger. To Activate.  To Provoke.  To Instigate. To Irritate. To Tease.  To Tantalize.

When speaking there is ALWAYS a desired impact.

This concept became most pronounced to me as a University Theatre student as I was developing the tool of Verbal Actions.  Basic Idea: Inexperienced actors and directors tend to assume that the best way to portray a character is to sort out what the feeling or emotion is behind the words, and then “act” that emotion to the tune of the playwright’s dialogue.

The trouble is emotions are not “playable”.  No authentic, or dare I say, believable, performance has been created by pasting feelings over words.  The best way for an actor and a director to communicate and the fastest route to an authentic performance is to create from what they call in the ‘biz’ verbal actions. This concept is so important to the craft of acting that there is literally an Actors’ Thesaurus filled with potential verbal actions.

Try it.  Pick 3-4 of the Verbal Actions from the beginning of this post.  Now say the following piece of dialogue with each of the differing verbal actions you chose.

“Winnipeg Manitoba is by far the best city in the world to live!”

The verbal action behind what you are saying vastly informs the way you say it AND therefore the impact the exact same words create.

Now before I turn this into an acting lesson, flip the concept around.  How often do we let our emotions run the show of our dialogue and become unintentional with the impact of our words?

How much more powerful might communication be if we took the time to reflect on what is intended to be accomplished with our words?

When we go unconscious about our verbal actions we run the risk of our impact becoming something along the lines of “to intimidate, to convince, to belittle, to instigate, to elude, to frustrate, to silence, to shame, to lecture, to dominate, to ignore” and miscommunication is inevitable.

So let’s get smart with our dialogue:

  1. Intentionally choose empowering verbal actions. (For example: To Empower. To Inform. To Delight. To Align.  To Involve. To Encourage. To Stimulate. To Connect.)
  2. Practice and play with these new verbal actions in your everyday communication. Notice what lands. When and how are you most easily able to create your desired impact?  What are your keys to success?
  3.  Begin to notice when communication has gone awry. See what your unintentional verbal action may have been and strategize how you will recover.
  4.  Focus on making your new intentional and empowering verbal actions your default ways of speaking – and watch as the magic in your dialogue unfolds!


I’d love to hear what some of the most empowering verbal actions you discover are.  Click Contact Me and leave a message to let me know!

Happy Intentional Communication to you!





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