Mandy Moore has delivered some seriously impressive monologues in her day. Exhibit A: the “never, ever in my life have I burnt a chocolate soufflé” scene from modern classic (don’t argue—it’s great) Because I Said So. Exhibit B: the epic deal she makes with her evil “mother” to save Eugene’s life at the conclusion of Tangled (ugh!). Exhibit C: basically some scene in most episodes of This Is Us. The gal doesn’t shy away from long-winded, heartfelt solos. So when I had the opportunity to ask her how she prepares for the emotionally driven scenes that require a mind-bending amount of memorization, I hoped I could apply her tips for my own benefit.
“Sometimes there will be huge monologues, and I never feel like it’s a burden,” she tells me during our conversation in partnership with Nature’s Way. “I’m like, okay, I’ve got this.” She adds that if she approaches the challenge with a singular goal of memorizing everything down to the letter, she risks sabotaging her progress. Instead, she’s found that establishing trust in her own ability to deliver her role yields the best results. “I know my routine and my rhythm…. I know I’ll be able to get it and I just take the pressure off myself,” says Moore.
In practice, this means she reads the script again and again (and again), but never sweats the small stuff, like an ad-lib that doesn’t change the integrity or ethos of her scene. So to see if I could adopt this same strategy, I asked Maggie Mistal, a New York City–based career coach, to elaborate on how the Moore method applies offscreen. She tells me that it’s really about shifting your mind-set from being performance-based (which means your sole goal is to “do it right”) to being service-based (which means you’re trying to give your audience members what they’re emotionally craving). So, in the case of This Is Us, a service-based scene would have the goal of providing viewers ammo for ugly-crying. (Seems like all This Is Us scenes are service-based, then—right?)
“I know my routine and my rhythm…. I know I’ll be able to get it and I just take the pressure off myself.” —Mandy Moore
“When being of service, you focus on the needs of your audience. You put yourself in their shoes, understand, and adjust to their needs,” says Mistal. “Yes, you have a plan, but by being of service, you are more able to connect with your audience and deliver the message in a way that works for them.” In high school English, my teacher called this type of convincing speech pathos (AKA, the Greek term for appealing to emotion). And even years after you turned in your paper on Oedipus, it’s just as relevant—you can apply it to your workplace grind.
To use the Moore-sanctioned intel in your next meeting, public-speaking opp, or hey—really anytime you’re feeling nervous about delivering information, Mistal has a few suggestions. “I say to myself, ‘please help me focus on being of service.’ I also remind myself during the [performance, meeting, or conversation] to come back to a service mind-set. I’ll tell myself to focus on the needs of the audience.” So, get ready to elicit a This Is Us-worthy emotional reaction in your next company gathering—if that’s what you anticipate your audience wants. (Don’t forget the tissues.)
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