My wife and I recently returned from Las Vegas where we attended a Garth Brooks performance. I had no intention of writing a column about it. But after watching Garth captivate a crowd for nearly 21/2 hours, I realized that I had not watched a concert. Instead, I had witnessed a magnificent presentation of his “product”—his songs. I also realized that the way this showman delivered his material carries valuable lessons for communicators in any field.
Here are five ways to deliver your next presentation Garth Brooks style.
1. Provide an education. Garth’s fans expected to hear his hits. But Garth gave them something more—an education in contemporary music history. He sang his first big hit—“Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)”—to open the show but then surprised them by saying, “This isn’t where it began. It began in the 1960s when I was the youngest of six children. …” Garth then talked about the early country influences on his life as well as the other genres and popular music that influenced his music.
Your audience expects you to talk about your product or service. Surprise them by giving them an education.
2. Tell stories. Garth set up each song with a story. The stories were mostly personal anecdotes, but he also told many stories about how certain songs were developed or why they were written the way they were. Stories are emotional. Stories connect a performer with his or her audience.
If you want to really connect in a meaningful way with your audience, tell more stories.
3. Balance humor and drama. Some of Garth’s stories had the audience buckling over with laughter while others left the audience in tears.
Garth told the story of the first time he met one of his idols, James Taylor. They were slated to perform a song together. During a brief rehearsal, Garth was so star-struck he could hardly remember the words to “Sweet Baby James.” He recounted how Taylor stood up, walked over, gave Garth a hug, sat back down, picked up his guitar and started the song again. This time Garth remembered the words. Tell stories, but remember to blend drama and humor.
4. Encourage audience participation. Garth encouraged the audience to sing along with many of his songs. He also asked the audience what they wanted to hear and took spontaneous requests.
Don’t just “present” to your audience. Include them.
5. Express joy. It was clear that Garth loves music, period. The genre hardly matters to him. Garth had a smile a mile wide.
Your audience is giving you permission to be passionate. It’s OK to express the joy you have for a company, a person, a product, or a service. Be genuine, of course. But be joyful.
Carmine Gallo is the communications coach for the world’s most admired brands. He is a popular keynote speaker and author of several books, including the best-sellers, The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs and The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs. His new book, The Power of Foursquare, will be released by McGraw-Hill in October. Follow him on Twitter: carminegallo.
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