More real-time musings from the person who just came back from running the biggest event her company will host this year. Like I mentioned in my last post, our senior leaders were really on the hook to deliver good content and engage their audience. I went into great detail about how to arrive at good content for a presentation by cutting irrelevant points, making it about the audience, creating a structure and theme so that important points make sense and are easy to remember.
But I didn’t talk at all about how to deliver it.
Writing good content is hard, but unless you have a real gift for theatrics, delivering it is even harder. I joke with people that I learned everything I know about staging events from watching Barry Manilow in concert. They don’t know that I’m kind of telling the truth. So today, on Barry Manilow’s birthday, I want to prop up his work as an example of how hook an audience. Consider the following:
Barry Manilow doesn’t sing just one note – Barry actually sings many notes, and while you may not be singing your company’s year-end results, you shouldn’t be talking at one, consistent, droning level, either. If you’re excited about something, raise the volume and the level of your voice. When you’re sad, bring it down a bit. Make your tone fit, make it interesting.
Barry Manilow doesn’t sing “Mandy” like it’s a carnival song – Emotion, emotion, emotion. In my last entry, I talked about how appealing to your audiences intellect will get you nowhere, but touching them emotionally will incent them to change their behavior. How many people ran out to buy that sappy song when Barry sounded like he was all but crying at the end? I mean, he really wanted her to come back!!
Barry Manilow doesn’t sing with his hands tied behind his back – Sure, he’s done a gazillion concerts, and he looks comfortable in front of a crowd. But he’s probably not as comfortable as you think! I don’t know him personally, but I’m guessing he’s a little nervous when he steps out in front of 20,000 people. You will be, too, but, like Barry, try not to show it. Loosen up those arms. Bend those knees. Don’t stand there like a statue because you have 300 eyes on you. Use body language to help.
Barry Manilow doesn’t forget the words to “Looks Like We Made It” – His band doesn’t forget how to play it, either. So, when you go out on stage, you should know your material. It’s not enough to run through it and take up some note cards. Get it into your brain so that it’s second nature. If you know your speech inside and out, you’ll have extra confidence up there, and it’ll help everything else.
Barry Manilow’s show doesn’t run long – When Barry is singing in Vegas, his concert is 90 minutes long. If he runs over, Wayne Newton won’t have enough time to do his material, right? Don’t take away from the other guy by using up all of your time and part of someone else’s. No one wants to hear you yammer on longer than you should, anyway.
Barry Manilow doesn’t just walk up on stage and start singing – Barry is well lit, and there’s usually some music that introduces him. If you have the means and the equipment, lower the lights and put on the intro to “Copacabana” when you walk on stage. It looks professional and it gets the audience into a cheerful, energetic mood.
Barry Manilow doesn’t sing his last song, talk for a little bit and then wander offstage – No, he’s singing, “I Write the Songs” or a reprise of “It’s a Miracle,” and the audience is on its feet, clapping along, cheering him as he’s played off by the band. Similarly, is your finish strong? Do you have a call to action, do you give them a reason to applaud? If not, reconsider your content.
If you’re trying to get the feeling for your next presentation, use these guidelines set by me and Barry Manilow to help you reach your audience a little bit better. With a little practice and some thought toward showmanship, you’ll change your presentation from boring to a true, blue spectacle that will keep your listeners engaged and encourage them to tackle action items.
Next Post: Wednesday, July 1