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Mastering Stage Presence: How to Present to Any Audience

Send stage fright packing with tips on something that makes all of us uneasy: standing up in front of a crowd.
Mastering Stage Presence: How to Present to Any Audience is rated 3.8 out of 5 by 34.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent! This course gave me confidence and the desire to learn more. I do speak and move more confidently because of these lectures. Thank you. I will revisit this course again and again.
Date published: 2023-08-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good but not great I may have bought this course expecting something different. Ms. Long is charming and engaging and I'm sure she is a great actress. I, however, am not a Thespian. I give speeches regularly and I still get butterflies before I talk. Once into the speech, they go away. I was looking for some good tips to help with this process, and I was a little disappointed that Melanie was focussed on STAGE presence, not so much in performing before an audience generically, such as speaking, singing, or playing a musical instrument. Nevertheless, if I ever do perform on stage as an actor, I have gleaned a lot of tips from this course.
Date published: 2022-02-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent course I am a retired military officer, military chaplain, trainer, consultant, and public motivational and personal growth speaker. To get over the fear of public speaking I attended the Barter Theater of Virginia before joining the army. The army sent me to Princeton university for a course to learn about television speaking. At times my audiences have numbered over five thousand. I think this is one of the best courses to which I have been exposed during my career. I would recommend this course for any public speaker
Date published: 2020-04-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Mastering Stage Presence: How to I have to say I was overwhelmed with the wealth of information presented. I wasn't expecting such in depth knowledge in so many areas. Melanie's inviting personality, politeness and attention to detail made it all the more attractive. It was well done, well worth the time spent and thorough. I will continue to review sections of the course in days ahead. A bargain! Great job!
Date published: 2019-08-19
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Limited Application... I excitedly purchased this class with the hopes it would help me improve my presentation skills. While I can see the instructor is very knowledgeable, as I sampled several of the classes, I realized it was an extended acting class. Better for those who look for that focus, but not for me.
Date published: 2019-07-30
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Wished for More Non-Theatre Content I was hoping for more content that was related to specific singing performance, public speaking, and non-theatre entertainment presentation. Instruction is good, but I felt much of the content was padded . . . made pretty obvious points take a long time. And suffered from one basic teaching teaching no-no over and over again. She kept saying "Not to forget" when she should have been saying "Be sure to remember."
Date published: 2019-05-25
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Misleading title, and unbelievable error The title is Mastering Stage Presence: How to Present to any audience" but it's essentially a course for actors, with the occasional throwaway line such as "this will also help you in giving a speech or interview." I must say I have noticed a trend in Great Courses' titles, but this was an egregious example. If you are interested in learning how to give a speech, this course will most definitely not be of any help. The 24 "lectures" could have been reduced to 12 or maybe fewer without any loss of actual information. Lastly, I heard the "professor" say something that awoke me from my stupor. I rewound to make sure I had heard correctly. Then I looked in the course guide. It is actually printed in the guide: "then, there's the rise of Christianity from around 300 BC." That's an amazing trick to have Christianity 300 years "Before Christ". How can anyone--left alone a "professor" actually say those words without realizing the error? Sorry, this is the worst course I have ever bought. I kept going hoping eventually there would be something of value. After a (very short) while, I found myself constantly fast-forwarding because I simply couldn't take it. For each bad review I give, I write a good one, and I have a five-star review of Damrosch on "The Decline and Fall".
Date published: 2018-09-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Mastering Stage Presence I like this course and I'm enjoying it because of the professor representing it in a very well organized way!
Date published: 2018-05-16
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Learn to present your best self to the world in any setting, with this practical, interactive course on the skills of performance taught by a professor of acting and directing.


Melanie M. Long

You can share your experiences with other people and you can do it with passion and clarity-with joy, even-because what you say and how you say it is a powerful expression of who you are and what you believe.


Kennesaw State University

Professor Melanie Martin Long is a professional theatre director, private performance coach, and part-time Assistant Professor of Acting and Directing. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of The College of William & Mary in Theatre and English, Professor Long holds a certificate from the Alliance Theatre Acting Program in Atlanta and a Master of Fine Arts in Directing from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. She completed further theatrical studies as a Dunn Peace Research Scholar to South Africa and as an assistant director to Joe Dowling at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis.

Professor Long has directed productions ranging from classics such as Hamlet, The Tempest, and A Midsummer Night's Dream, to her original adaptation of the Gabriel Garcia Marquez short story A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings for the Lincoin Center Theater Directors Lab. As a performer, Professor Long has appeared on various Atlanta stages, including the Alliance Theatre, Theatrical Outfit, and Theatre Gael.

Professor Long's publications include two annotations of Shakespeare (The Tempest and Julius Caesar) for Teacher's Discovery and the book and lyrics for The Frog Prince with composer James Woodward.

Professor Long has received numerous awards, including the Ken Bryant Outstanding Directing Award, three Lotta M. Crabtree Theatrical Trust Awards, and multiple Certificates of Merit for directing from the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival.

By This Professor

Mastering Stage Presence: How to Present to Any Audience
Mastering Stage Presence: How to Present to Any Audience


The Performance Triangle

01: The Performance Triangle

Consider how people learn stage presence-a process of cultivating self-awareness and practical skills in an environment of trust and support. Begin with the three building blocks of performance technique: a "triangle" formed by mental focus, your physical life, and your speaking voice. Create a safe and comfortable physical space for the work you'll do.

31 min
Modern Acting Technique

02: Modern Acting Technique

Discover how modern acting technique is built around a commitment to enact a specific purpose onstage. Then explore two psychological approaches to performance: performance from the "inside out" and performance from the "outside in." Begin to look at ways to find purpose in dramatic material, and also as it applies to public speaking and presenting.

30 min
Building a Character

03: Building a Character

Now learn an effective system for clarifying and connecting with your purpose onstage, or in front of any audience. Using the characters of Blanche and Stanley from Tennessee Williams's A Streetcar Named Desire, explore acting teacher Uta Hagen's "Nine Questions," which elucidate a character's identity, given circumstances, and motivations.

32 min
Analyzing Backstory and Motivation

04: Analyzing Backstory and Motivation

Continuing with the Nine Questions, learn how a dramatic character's circumstances affect their behavior, and how actors use a character's obstacles and tactics to overcome them in pursuing the character's purpose onstage. Then, see how to use the Nine Questions in public speaking, using the example of a famous speech by Barbara Bush.

31 min
Identifying Your Unconscious Habits

05: Identifying Your Unconscious Habits

The "habitual self" is the complex of physical and vocal habits that we adopt as a response to our life experience. Through the stages of life, observe how human beings develop habitual physical patterns that may be limiting, and how awareness of these patterns serves freedom of expression and the needs of performance.

31 min
Recovering Your Natural Alignment

06: Recovering Your Natural Alignment

Learn the principles of the Alexander Technique, a system of movement training designed to achieve natural physical alignment and freedom from unnecessary tension. Explore the relationship between the head, neck, and spine, and practice a series of exercises to bring awareness and freedom to basic movements such as sitting and standing.

28 min
The Body Balanced at Rest

07: The Body Balanced at Rest

In this course, "balance" is a state of equilibrium produced by an even distribution of weight, through which we can direct our energy in the most effective ways. Begin to balance the body in a lying position, practicing small movements that create release in the connective tissue of the shoulders, hips, and joints.

31 min
The Body Balanced in Motion

08: The Body Balanced in Motion

Beginning with a physical warm-up to bring freedom to the joints, experiment with vertical, horizontal, lateral, and sagittal planes of movement, and how using all the planes in performance gives visual and emotional variety. Find ways of moving through space with balance and freedom, and observe how ways of moving affect and evoke emotional states.

28 min
Intent, Purpose, and Character

09: Intent, Purpose, and Character

Learn about the work of movement pioneer Rudolph Laban, who created a system for understanding and notating qualities of movement. Explore eight fundamental movement types, which describe the range of direct and indirect forms of movement we use in daily living, and consider how we can shape our physical movements to tell stories.

33 min
Playing Status Relationships

10: Playing Status Relationships

How do our movements and gestures communicate our purpose? Study how our interactions with others are governed by our status or power position within the relationship. In life and onstage, observe how we "play" status with others through specific physical tactics, stances, and gestures that convey our intentions and further our objectives.

30 min
Stage Movement Savvy

11: Stage Movement Savvy

Discover the physical techniques that stage performers use to direct the audience's focus and maintain visual interest. Learn how to take and give focus onstage, using body position and orientation, as well as movement and stillness. Learn also to create visual variety through stage geometry, as well as the use of physical planes, balance, and rhythm.

31 min
The Glorious Human Voice

12: The Glorious Human Voice

In this first session on vocal technique, take a tour of the physical mechanisms of sound and speech. Practice free and expansive breathing, and experiment with the principles of phonation (sound production) and resonation (sound amplification). Conclude by exploring articulation-how speech shapes sound into words.

31 min
Accessing the Breath

13: Accessing the Breath

Continue with an extended session on breath, the source of sound. Begin with a full-body warm-up to release any physical tension that may obstruct sound production. In a neutral, lying position, practice free, clear breathing, using deep, natural breath to connect with the voice and to access vocal power without creating tension.

34 min
Your Vocal Energy

14: Your Vocal Energy

Building on our previous breath work, experiment with the range of your vocal potential, letting go of any preconceived notion of how you should sound. Using text from the Prologue to Shakespeare's Henry V, invoke the element of play in exploring tone, sustained breathing, vocal variety, and free, spontaneous vocal expression.

33 min
Vocal Dynamics-Your Best Voice

15: Vocal Dynamics-Your Best Voice

What makes a voice expressive or lackluster, rich or strident? Explore the parameters of resonance (sound placement), pitch, and volume. Understand how they give your voice its overall quality, and experiment with altering them at will. Also delve into inflection and intonation, see how they convey meaning, and learn about vocal projection.

32 min
Clear, Energized Speech

16: Clear, Energized Speech

Now study the tools that make speech clear and energized. Consider how vowels carry the feeling behind words, and practice clearly pronouncing our language's 20 vowel sounds, including pure vowels and diphthongs. Continue with consonants, both plosives and continuants, building awareness of how consonants communicate meaning and create emphasis.

30 min
The Muscles of Speech

17: The Muscles of Speech

Here, exercise and strengthen the muscles we use in shaping words, an important practice for clear expression in both professional and everyday life. After warming up the breath and voice, work out your vocal articulators using combinations of consonants and vowel sounds, followed by practice phrases and tongue twisters for enunciation and clarity.

32 min
Vocal Color-Pacing and Phrasing

18: Vocal Color-Pacing and Phrasing

Learn to keep your audience engaged using the rhythms of speech. Begin by studying pace, how vocal pace affects listeners, and how variety of pace aids clarity and communication. Then learn about phrasing-how you group words and punctuate your speech with pauses-and ways to improve phrasing and change limiting speech habits.

29 min
Accents and Dialects

19: Accents and Dialects

As performers or public speakers, we may at times need to either acquire or reduce a dialect or accent. Study the process of adopting a new way of speaking: learn to place your voice where it needs to resonate, incorporate new ways of shaping sounds, and find the intonation and rhythm of the new speech pattern.

29 min
Acing the Audition

20: Acing the Audition

The principles of auditioning in the theatre apply equally to interviews of any kind. Learn a comprehensive approach to presenting yourself in high-stakes settings. Study each phase of the process, from entering the room and introducing yourself to doing your audition or interview, the moments after, and your exit.

28 min
Preparing for the Performance

21: Preparing for the Performance

Building on all the work you've done, this lecture takes you through the rehearsal process step by step. For both stage performance and public speaking, begin with hands-on exploration and practice of your material in small sections, moving gradually to run-throughs and final dress rehearsals, approximating your performance conditions as completely as possible.

29 min
Using Stage Fright Energy

22: Using Stage Fright Energy

Look closely into the phenomenon of nervous energy or stage fright. Study key principles of mental focus for performing at your best, such as putting your performance experience in perspective, subduing self-judgment, using mental images of success, focusing on your partner or audience, and pinpointing specific fears.

28 min
Working the Crowd with Confidence

23: Working the Crowd with Confidence

Connecting with your audience and holding their attention is essential to an effective performance or presentation. Here, grasp three strategies for sustaining attention: learn to claim your power and set the scene; keep your structure, language, and movement simple; and engage your viewers from start to finish through variety and creativity.

29 min
Stage Presence-A Way of Life

24: Stage Presence-A Way of Life

Conclude by contemplating what great performers do, and how presence can be a way of life. Consider how master performers engage and question the world by reflecting what they see, telling the truth, taking risks, transforming what they receive from others into something new, and finding what gives them the greatest joy.

32 min