Getting the Money Applause -- Even When You Have Laryngitis
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It’s a mega concert.
The performer/singer that everyone has been waiting for gets on stage after a buildup of anticipation, frenzy, and excitement. The crowd is cheering wildly, knowing that their favorite star is about to appear and give them some of what they have been so anticipating, live and in the flesh.
And the star comes out, takes the mike, and begins to sing.
Except, it sounds more like a croaking sound. A mixture of laryngitis and a really, really bad cough.
After a few second of shocked silence -- the crowd realizes that they are currently attending “the concert that shouldn’t have been.” The energy in the room quickly turns into a disgruntled disappointment. Within minutes, social media is full of angry, disappointed tweets for those who just minutes ago were said performer’s biggest fans.
Let’s call the above scenario A.
It’s a medical conference. The pioneering surgeon, who is at the very forefront of treating this disease, which six months ago was considered a death sentence with no hope even a brief respite for those stricken with the dreaded, aggressive form of the disease is now, with this amazing new medical breakthrough that seems like pure science fiction, easily curable, with patients in full remission and scans showing them to be no different than those who never had the disease… which was why the FDA stopped trials so early and was going to allow the drug to be taken by anyone who wanted it. And every peer reviewed journal wanted a piece of him. Having his name on your paper was a shoo-in to the most prestigious papers, jobs and opened up doors like it was no ones business.
After introductions from everyone and anyone who could maneuver their way onto the program, our medicine miracle man gets up onto the stage. There’s anticipation, frenzy, and excitement palpably felt in the air. Those in attendance are cheering wildly, knowing just how they are watching history in the making.
And the doctor comes out, takes the mike, and begins to speak.
Not in a booming, exciting voice. Rather, it sounds more like a croaking sound. A mixture of laryngitis and a really, really bad cough, topped off by a complete lack of stage presence and a natural shyness that compounds his very soft, high pitched voice to make it almost impossible to hear, save for the magic of the audio guy, standing in the darkened auditorium and fiddling with the audio controls.
And the crowd absorbs every word. They are medical professionals, doctors, nurses, journalists, researchers, investors… who aren’t bothered by the lack of musical talent of their speaker, or even the fact that they lack basic speaking (and theatrical) skill.
And those in the audience who are social media conscious are buzzing about their excitement about being there, and about the amazing lecture and breakthrough medicine. And the rest of them sit glued, watching the very non Steve Jobs-like, text heavy and ugly to boot PowerPoint slides and absorbing every nuance of the speaker and every footnote on every slide.
This would be scenario B.
Now, the obvious question:
Why in scenario A, is our “presenter” so not well received, while in the second scenario, the same number of people in the same size room be so willing to listen to an even worse voice, yet be perfectly willing and thrilled to do so?
The answer is a simple yet important one.
One is a lecturer who happens to be “on stage”; the other is a performer.
When you speak as a content speaker, people are taking the time (and spend good money) to come and hear you speak -- not because you can sing opera. In essence, much like the difference between buying blank canvas or a painting -- it’s the words you are saying, or the paint on the canvas, that is what people want from you and your talent, the one that made you an expert in your field, that the audience wants to tap into -- not the sound of your voice or the use of your paintbrush.
It’s when a speaker appears on stage billed as a “performer” -- that the actual content may have no value, but it’s a bit of a circus and curiosity based fascination -- “come see the seven legged peacock” that drives the attendance. And when people are coming to hear you because of a fascination, that engagement will need to play up performance; giving the audience what they came to see.
Now, when a performer also delivers value or when a content-driven speaker also delivers their material in a way that is better than baseline. The audience takes that as “extra credit” and gives the content speaker an even stronger standing ovation and gives performers an extra nod for being more than just someone who can sing the same music over and over. But, they are seen as someone who can impart wisdom and a message that penetrates into the consciousness of their fans and listeners -- taking them to a whole new level.
When you speak for a group of potential clients, you surely should have content that will impress, amaze and excite your audience. After all, it’s the hearing you present and getting to know you as a person as well as the actual information that blows them away that converts them from listeners into clients and sources of referrals to you and your business.
And when you can over deliver by not just giving information that astounds, but also deliver the content itself in a way that entertains and enhances the content by putting it on steroids, by mixing in a bit of good acting, humor or stage costume?
In my own speaking career, (and I've spoken for audiences as varied as New York Life, Google and Tel Aviv University) it is my Hasidic Jewish side curls, beard, long black coat and wide felt hat being way different than what my audience might expect. This causes an additional curiosity factor that puts the audience in suspense, “What is this guy all about?” (It certainly helps with being memorable.)
If you have content that sits atop that unique appearance or delivery, it will turn that first few minutes of shock into a captive audience that absorbs every word -- and a source of new business like you would not believe. (and if you don't have the content -- then no matter what your appearance, you won't be wanted back by professional audiences parsing you words for ways to increase their income in a significant way.)
Give it a try. Implementing even one of these techniques will elevate your game to a whole new level. It will get you more business, more referrals, more request to present and a sharp increase in attendee satisfaction, as evidenced by the lengthy applause that will follow your future presentations.