One of my favorite holidays as a kid was Halloween. Each year I’d plan out my costume in detail. And when I say “detail,” I mean it. One year, when I decided to dress as a scarecrow, I was so intent on making it authentic that I stuffed fallen leaves down both sleeves of an old flannel shirt and tried to find the next best thing to hay (not much of that in the suburbs of New York City) to have peeking out at my wrists.
I was reminded of how much fun I always had in dressing up as someone completely different than myself this past October, when I channeled Frenchy from Grease for a Hollywood-themed party. That’s me at left in the photo: Beauty School dropout wig, cat’s eye glasses, Pink Ladies jacket, and all. (As for who my friend Amy, next to me, dressed as, she was, and I quote, “Jennifer Lawrence in 20 years.”) I hadn’t told anyone what my costume was beforehand, so it was pretty amusing all night walking up to people, having them stare at me for a long few moments, and then see the “a-ha!” moment flash across their face. It was equally great fun to “try on” another personality, so to speak.
It reminded me of something that Robyn Hatcher, a speaker, author, and communications consultant, calls ActorTypes in her new book Standing Ovation Presentations. Hatcher outlines nine personality types, explaining what qualities and characteristics comprise each. As she writes, “I believe we all have similar qualities and can use these qualities to stand out and become stars in our own right.” In fact, she believes we all have a certain default ActorType but sometimes have additional types mixed in, or even aspire to be another ActorType. In addition, sometimes we are one ActorType at home and another at work.
Here are the ActorTypes that Hatcher writes about:
1. The Whiz Kid: failsafe memory for facts; research oriented, organized and exacting
2. Super Model/Sex Symbol: ensures all details, especially aesthetic ones, are taken care of; high standards
3. The Comic: can find humor in any situation, and adept at using it to diffuse awkward situations or convey difficult/stressful details
4. The Super Hero: focused on righting wrongs, defending honor; detail-oriented, passionate
5. The Ingenue: sweet, innocent; eternal optimist
6. The Buddy: dependable; treats those he/she encounters like best friends
7. The Curmudgeon: couldn’t care less about whether people like him/her, or about appearances; approaches things in a very black and white way
8. The Hero: charismatic, credible, and likable; gifted at engaging audiences (note that this isn’t the same as The Super Hero)
9. The Villain: also charismatic, compels attention from an audience, but with an air of superiority and sometimes arrogance
Which of these ActorTypes appeals to you? Are there any you’d love to be? Even with certain ActorType characteristics ingrained in us, Hatcher says you can step into the shoes of another ActorType if you want. This can be especially helpful for someone who’s shy and wants to break out of that shell. It’s also helpful for people who might come on too strong or intensely and not intend that to happen.
There are a lot of great tips in Standing Ovation Presentations on these topics, as well as the overall importance of identifying who you are naturally and how to make those natural strengths shine. I highly recommend the book, which you can order via Amazon.com. I also highly recommend Hatcher as a speaker or coach; I have seen her speak on three separate occasions, and each time, she has wowed me and the rest of the audience. Her upcoming appearances and even a link to an ActorType quiz are posted on her SpeakEtc website.