• March 2015

Why Casting Matters

By Hilary Blair
CEO and Lead Coach

and Robin A. Miller, PhD
COO and Lead Coach

ARTiculate Real & Clear: Real Communication Is an ART ARTiculateRC.com

Casting is not just for movies and fishing. In business, project managers need to be able to cast a team that will add value to their public speaking projects to assure the best outcome.

That’s why casting directors of stage and screen are paid so well. Their job sets the foundation for a win or a loss at the box office.

  • Is casting any different for a company project than it is for the performing arts? No, it’s crucial in both settings to find the right people for the right roles.
  • Is casting any different than selecting a team for a project? Not really — casting directors and project managers both know what skills and experience is required. Presence and chemistry are necessary, so both must assemble a cast that “clicks.”
  • Is casting any different in the workplace for assigning the specific team members to create the perfect cast? No. Teams and casts are both made up of individuals, but must function as a unit. Some people won’t make the grade, but casting directors (and project managers) must be resolute in casting only the people who can best lead the cast to success.

To create your blockbuster in the workplace:

  • Identify the specific needs that will have to be met to reach the goal. For example, if the client is difficult to work with, consider assigning a team member who is good at working with challenging personalities to work with that client. If the team’s goal is to close a deal, determine which team member is best at closing.
  • Make sure the entire cast is able to bring their “A” game: It matters who is available to be a part of the team. If a certain team member is not available, that could shift the casting decisions for the rest of the team members.
  • Are the players flexible? If someone is accustomed to playing one particular role in the office, be sure they can give up that role and shift to another role if necessary. Players should also be able to identify and respond quickly when a shift is needed — it could be necessary immediately prior to going into the event, or even as the event is unfolding.
  • Collaboration is essential: While some colleagues like each other and get along well in general, they don’t always work well together on a team. Be on the lookout for those who have good chemistry and can be productive together.
  • Stack the deck: When it comes to casting the right team for a public speaking project, be sure to cast those who complement each other’s skills.
  • Build a team you can trust to play well together. When the team is “performing,” if one team member drops something, every other member should be ready to pick it up. There’s no room for “but …” “Yes, and…” is a key phrase for teams that work excellently with each other.

For ultimate success, create a casting “breakdown”:

  1. Write it down. In theater, a casting call asks everyone who thinks they are right for the role to show up. There is a written breakdown that folks read to see if they fit, or think they can fit. To create a breakdown for your business needs, write out what is necessary. This makes it much less personal and more about the job and which mix of folks is best.
  2. Ask questions. What factors do you consider when you are putting together a team? Do your needs differ depending on whether you’re pulling together a two- or 10-member team? Do members of the team discuss why they are together? They should be asking themselves: “What skills do we have?” “Who should do what?” “What “role” am I playing?”
  3. Consider your audience in your casting decisions. We all have a variety of skills that we bring to the workplace and to each situation. Many of us can play a variety of roles. Casting choices change depending on the needs of the specific job and on mix of people already cast. Even within a team of three people who often work together, the individual roles may shift depending on the scenario and the intended audience. Perhaps, in one scenario, person A takes the lead because they have the most experience or they are the oldest. Or, perhaps they are female, and in this scenario, the audience would be most receptive to a female lead. Don’t let being politically correct blind you to who your audience is and which team members should be cast in which roles for a particular audience.
  4. Define the roles. There are many roles for each project, and sometimes cast members play more than one part. If you have cast the best three folks for a particular project, figure out their specific roles. Who is truly best for leading? Who is best for being ready with facts? Who should keep the meeting on track? Who will be the active listener?
  5. Communicate with each other, not just the audience. Team huddle ensures that the casting sticks. Take time to communicate with the rest of the cast before your event, presentation, or project. Well before the curtain rises, of course you will decide your team tactics and what role each of you will play. Equally important is determining how you will communicate once you are in the room or on the project. Great teams, like great casts, constantly communicate and adapt to new information. If roles are clear, it’s hard to be thrown — and easy for excellence to dominate.

Remember: Great casting directors are highly sought after. They understand the magic of a great team. Good casting pays off at the box office, so it is a good bet that it will pay off for your business, too. Pause. Take the moment to cast well. Then, don’t be surprised by rave reviews.

For more information, visit www.articulaterc.com.

Don’t stop now! Click here for a short video of Hilary Blair elaborating on why casting matters — in business and in the movies.

About Hilary Blair

CEO and lead coach for ARTiculate: Real & Clear, Hilary Blair, MFA, is an admitted breath snob. A presentation and speaking voice expert, Blair is a highly regarded coach and facilitator working extensively across the United States with businesses that include American Express, Janus Funds, Staples, Liberty Global, and Hunter Douglas. She uses her skills and experience as a stage, film, and voice-over actor, teacher, and voice coach to help people in a variety of positions, including entrepreneurs, CEOs, writers, and project managers — high achievers craving feedback in order to grow. Her coaching is informed by what is unique and authentic in the individual or group. In addition, she facilitates workshops that use improvisation to improve leadership skills, team-building, and creativity. She is on the faculty of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts and has been adjunct faculty for a number of universities. An active member of Toastmasters and a board member of VASTA — the Voice and Speech Trainers Association — she holds an MFA in acting from the National Theatre Conservatory and a BA from Yale University.

About Robin A. Miller

Robin Miller is an energetic, motivational keynote speaker who has also spent more than 20 years in teaching, training, and coaching. Her specialty is in guiding the well-thought individual to become confidently well-spoken in settings such as interviews, meetings, and keynotes. Her clients include Coors, the University of Denver, and Sterisil.

She has performed vocally and conducted numerous musical groups throughout her career, as well as taught music at Baylor University, the University of North Texas, and Texas Christian University. Her expertise in navigating customer communication derives from her experience as a customer relationship manager in the financial industry, and as a development specialist in some of Denver’s leading Level 1 trauma centers, as well as her advanced training in mediation and crucial conversations. She earned an MM in music from Baylor University, a PhD in Musicology from the University of North Texas, and a MDiv from the Iliff School of Theology.

Blair and Miller acknowledge the amazing voice teachers with whom they have had the privilege of working: Chuck Jones, Rocco Dal Vera, Gary Logan, Patsy Rodenburg, Catherine Fitzmaurice, and Kristen Linklater, to name a few.

For more information, visit ARTiculate Real & Clear: Real Communication Is an Art, at ARTiculateRC.com