Power Prompt

Y’know how it feels when you’re at a dinner party and a dear friend sets you up to tell your very best story in front of some new friends who are eager to soak up your brilliantly entertaining storytelling? Ahh… that’s so nice.

That feeling can be a seed that exists in every one of your marketing tools, as an actor. Huh? Oh yeah, baby. Go with me, here.

You know I love to say you’re always dropping breadcrumbs down the path for how buyers can cast you next, right? Well, you’re also planting seeds in your resumé, your bio, your cover letter, your website, your “about me” on social networking profiles. All of it.

I’ve talked before about using the special skills section of your resumé to invite a conversation in the casting room, and this is an extension of that.

Beyond lack of branding and lack of focus on the recipient, one of the biggest mistakes I see actors make in writing their cover letters is attempting to shove EVERYTHING into one letter. Actors seem to forget that the purpose of a cover letter is to intrigue the recipient into setting up a meeting.

Telling all your best stories in a single cover letter is an amateur move. Crafting what I call a “power prompt” that gets recipients wondering, “Hmm… I wonder what *that’s* about,” is a ninja move.

Now, I’m not talking about some schmactor nonsense like, “Boy, do I have a funny story for you. Here’s how it starts… [beat] Wanna find out how it ends? Call me for a meeting!” No. That’s a tacky gimmick that won’t pay off. That goes back to the whole “clever for the sake of being clever” or “different for the sake of being different” thing, which is just a bunch o’ hooey.

What I’m suggesting is that you plant a seed somewhere in your materials that gets folks thinking, “Ooh. I have a follow-up question.” No, not something that gives ’em homework (remember, as Nancy Wolfson says, “Never give an opportunity provider homework,” because they’ll simply move along to another option, among many), but something that gets ’em thinking.

“Okay, wait. What? This seemingly plain-looking small-town girl from the Midwest speaks fluent Vietnamese and has a background in opera touring? Um. I gotta meet this chick and find out how that all came about.”

“Ooh, I didn’t expect *that* name in this list of references. I wonder how they found themselves working together.”

“Man, I bet THAT is a great story. Wonder how that’d play out on Letterman. Let’s see if this kid can spin a good yarn.”

See where I’m headed with this?

Conversation points. Bait for follow-up questions. Power prompts for the stories you’ll get to tell in the room, because you’re more likely to be invited in, with the idea that you’ll be FUN in the meeting… not just another actor in a parade of actors whose most compelling conversation item is, “I’m in this really good class and I know if you signed me, we’d be a good team.” *yawn*

Plant seeds. Everyone has ’em. Don’t put the whole dang tree into all of your materials. Give yourself room to grow… and to charmingly tell the story about it all, when asked.


Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. Wanna work with Bon? Start here. Thanks!

Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/001714.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.

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