Why Breaking "The 4th Wall" Will Make You a More Engaging Speaker

jim gaffigan whisper voice

What Is "The Fourth Wall?" 

The formal definition of The Fourth Wall is a theatrical term for the imaginary “wall” that exists between actors on stage and the audience. 

Obviously, no such wall really exists, but to keep up the illusion of theater, the actors pretend that they cannot hear or see the audience and the audience gets to enjoy the wonderful sensation of being a fly on the wall. The same effect often occurs in movies, only the fourth wall in that instance is a camera lens.

In some of your favorite movies and television shows, actors purposely break the fourth wall and speak directly to the audience. This happens in shows like Modern Family and The Office, when they conduct their interviews for the audience. Another example is Kevin Spacey in House of Cards -- when his character confesses to the audience about his true feelings in the moment. 

Image courtesy of Julie Hansen, @acting4sales

Image courtesy of Julie Hansen, @acting4sales

How Does this Apply to Public Speaking? 

As we learned, when commanding the room, you break the fourth wall by "calling the room." How exactly do you call the room? Acknowledge the obvious in your surroundings... if you notice it, your audience notices it. This will keep everyone there with you in the moment and engaged in the experience. 

 

Watch Jim Break The 4th Wall with His Whisper Voice

And since we discuss Jim Gaffigan in our recent stand-up comedy workshop featuring Ben Kronberg, I want to share one of my favorite clips about Jim's addition to cake! Notice what a great job he does both changing perspectives and breaking the 4th wall through the ingenious use of his whisper voice.

To learn more about breaking the fourth wall contact Pitch Lab. We'd love to help you be a funnier, more engaging speaker!