Any stage act or performance will involve an audience. That’s the whole point of the act. Performers know this, and a lot of them react to the audience when they are on stage.
For example, in a dance routine, the dancers cannot move out of their formation to interact with the audience. However, the choreographer usually plans the dance to have certain ‘wow’ points that are most likely to get a reaction from the audience, or at least keep the audience engaged.
Still, wondering how the audience reacts on stage makes a lot of performers nervous. They cannot break the fourth wall to interact with the audience directly. And truth be told, the audience can react in totally unexpected ways – this includes total silence.
That’s where you, the emcee, come in. As the person with the ability to interact with the audience directly, it is your job to manage the audience for the entire event.
You control the audience, not the other way around
[5 minutes 46 seconds, if you average 3 words per second]
By now, if you live in Singapore, or have friends who are Singaporeans – you would have heard about the latest video controversy making its round on the internet.
I was asked by a local news paper, The New Paper to give my views on the video and the reasons for the reception it received.
Here’s my take on the misses and hits, and what we can learn from it.
1) Robotic “Personalities”
Go through the first 40 seconds of the video, and you’ll see bodies people largely standing still. Even for people who speak, their gestures and mannerisms appear largely controlled.
Having worked in front of the camera, I’m aware of the need to minimize distracting mannerisms.
Unfortunately, minimizing mannerisms in this case has swung to the other extreme, causing a number of people in the video to appear contrived and “emotionless”.
What really stood out for me, is how one person, apart from his/her voice, speaks and sounds almost the same as the other person – how’s that for personality and personalization?
What could’ve been better: Variation in tone, pace and hand gestures would’ve broken the seeming monotony of “robotic personalities”. They key is to present one’s personality and energy.
2) Synchronized Movement: An Irony of Preparation
This is probably a sad irony of preparation. Where an audience demands sincerity and connection with the people who may eventually be their leaders, synchronized gestures throughout the video (ie, at 0:26s) suggests a rehearsed attempt and hardly suggests that actions from the activists (pardon the pun) “came from the bottom of the heart”.
Even the following segment by the West Coast Region YP, an apparent attempt at presenting a united front – backfired, when the actions appeared overly orchestrated.
Tanjong Pagar Region YP (3:44) upped the ante with their segment with an even more uniformed recital of what they wanted to say and with their eyes all over the place except the camera.
What could’ve been better: Have close ups of individual activists from within the group, present shortened, specific segments. So everybody gets air time, but there’s less “group” coordination required for the recital.
It’s also perfectly fine to look at the camera to simulate eye contact with the audience.
By the way, having one’s eyes moving systematically, from left to right gives people the perception that you’re reading off a script/teleprompter and not speaking from the heart… so doing that is also highly discouraged.
It’s hard to convince people that you truly believe in and care for something, when the delivery appears to be devoid of emotion, scripted and prepared.
3) Language: Can you Connect with the Common Man?
I noted a couple of instances, when the words used by the presenters weren’t naturally relatable to or immediately understandable by the man on the street.
In short, we don’t use them as part of of our daily conversations.
Take for example the segment presented by Holland-Bukit Timah Region, where it was said, “We must continue to be responsive to the ever-changing social, political and economic environment, by distributing resources in a caring manner, and balancing market forces and government intervention for Singaporeans to better cope with living expenses.
That’s a lot of big words there.
Instead of that, how about, “We must continue to be sensitive to the needs of Singaporeans – by sharing with them the fruits of the country’s labour and help them with the costs and challenges of living.
(I don’t like the word “challenging” here… but hey, I came this at the top of my head and it’s still better than the original version, no?)
Then there are terms that even I find confusing… such as East Coast Region YP’s “Diversity in Social Mindset” – I understood the explanation that came after the term… but I did find myself scratching my head wondering why that can’t be replaced with the phrase “Having more members from more diverse backgrounds” (… other than doctors, lawyers, etc).
If only the other YP branches heeded the advice of Choa Chu Kang Region YP, who called for communication to be simple, concise and easy to understand…
Okay, now that I’m done with the misses… let’s consider the hits.
Content: Pretty sound there – there’re no surprises here. Every thing is spic and span and no controversy erupted over a message that could’ve been misconstrued etc. At least the PAP doesn’t have to be embarrassed by a message.
PartyDiscipline: Say what you like, the teams still pulled together to deliver a consistent message/direction is still commendable. Achieving that by itself is a feat, considering the massive machinery that is the PAP.
A for Effort and Putting Yourself Out There: Trying to be ‘natural’ and coordinated… you’ve got to say, the people tried and they’re really NOT actors!
It would be great if the speakers could achieve the level of unconscious competency in the area of public speaking, communication and connecting with their audience.
Hey guys… just in case you’re wondering where you can learn that, I know of a coach who does a great job at helping people with that! *winks*
To be fair, I truly believe getting the different branches to send in a “proper” video for compilation is a mammoth task.
The PAP, known more for its discipline accuracy (think engineers and lawyers) and assuming the role of the ruling party would naturally place greater emphasis on the content of its message.
Still, try as they like, the call for people to focus on intention and the message is expected… but will very likely fall on deaf ears.
After all, people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.
Therefore, although I believe that there exists real concern (and passion) hidden under the cloak of nervousness and unrefined performance, the art of communication and connecting with the audience is a skill the PAP needs to work on, if they wish to really soften the blow of their (hard) policies and move the audience into believing that they know what’s best.
We may well be into the 21st Century, but that old adage, “it’s not who you know, but who know’s you” continues ringing true.
In fact, some people (myself included) have gone further with, “it’s not who knows you, but who remembers you” that counts.
The Art of Successful Networking for both personal and professional success are still key components in our world today. Yet, it is still an area that many of us fall short of, mainly because a significant proportion of us operate behind the miracle and wonders of the computer, and that good teachers on the subject are far and few between.
Commit yourself to speaking to people you haven’t met, and avoid the comfort of just hanging around familiar faces.
Commit yourself too, to having quality conversations, and by that I mean finding out about what they do, how you can help them and vice versa.
2. Dress the Part
The business world is a big marketplace, but that doesn’t mean you should dress like you are actually at one.
The way you dress, reflects how much effort and consideration you’ve put into your personal and professional branding. A haphazard ‘put-together’ suggests you don’t care – and if you don’t why should others?
3. Be Professional
Being professional means applying a skill or practice in the course of work, and that takes effort – effort which goes over and beyond what you would normally do in the personal sphere.
Being professional, thus requires you to prepare the “tools of your trade” and doing everything which is necessary to get the job done and done well. This includes preparing your name cards (the crisp and nice ones), polishing your shoes, reading up on who might be attending the event, and what they might be interested in etc.
4. Seize the Initiative
Don’t rely on others to take the lead. Be first to break the ice; they are probably just as nervous as you are and are also there for a purpose.
5. It’s Not Over Even After Its Over
A big mistake most people make at the end of a networking event, is thinking that it’s over after everybody’s gone home.
That people have gone home means that your work has entered the second phase of “staying in touch”. When the dust’s settling, that’s when you get the breeze going by keeping in touch and reminding them you are keeping them in mind (preferably with ways to help them in whatever ways necessary).
In a subtle way, it is also an indirect way of reminding them to keep a look out for opportunities for you.
Regardless, it’s still a great way to have them remember you – and that’s important, isn’t it?
6. Stay Visible
Join a networking/professional group or volunteer your services. Whatever it may be, the key point here is that you should be able to meet new people, show others what you are capable and continuously apply Tips 1-5.
Offer to speak at events, or publish articles; position yourself as the “go-to” person in your industry.
At the end of the day, it’s more important about who knows (and remembers) you, than who you know, is it not?
Do you have any other tips where it comes to Networking? Share it in the comments section below!
I came across this interesting post, whilst randomly surfing for interesting articles (which is a good thing) to read.
I must say, having started my career in my early 20s, that I found the list highly relatable and that I agree it to a large extent.
Points 1, 6, 7, 9 and 10 will probably get the biggest YES! from me, seeing that they were the main things I made a conscious effort to go against.
I do however, find points 2 and points 10 a little big oxymoronic, since the latter could be seen as an attempt by the “junkie” to live in the present, and I do wish that I can be more present as I go about fighting for the things I want in life.
Still, it makes for interesting reading. Tell me what you think about the 10 Reasons.
Which ones do agree with and why? Share your thoughts in the comments column below.
Too many people spend too much time trying to perfect something before they actually do it. Instead of waiting for perfection, run with what you go, and fix it along the way…
– Paul Arden – International Best Selling Writer
Many a times, many people think themselves to death when they think about public speaking. They shudder when they think about what other people might think of them on stag. They cringe and cry, paralyzed by over analyzing the situation. Then they give up – running away is always easier.
Some of you may know of it. Most of you are involved in it. That is if you are Singaporean, that is!
A battle is raging on our usually peaceful and restful nation. The General Election fever has hit our sunny island, and the battle for the electorate’s votes have been raging like wild fire!
And with the benefit of social media, and with sites like Facebook, Twitter and Youtube, the action is brought even closer to voters, of which I am one of too. Indeed, social media has brought about a certain air of change, as voices from various camps are much easily heard during these GE, as compared to yesteryears.
Whether those voices will be well received by the electorate, and whether they will translate into votes is anybody’s guess. More importantly however, not only do we get the opportunity to witness our potential elected representatives in actoin, we too get an opportunity to review and assess their individual speaking styles in action.
Yes, and that means the good stuff… along with the bad.
I will evaluate various speakers in action. Not so much of the things that they say (I’m no expert on politics and policies), but on the way it was pitched, their use of voice, body language, and the ways they were structured in delivery. The main aim is to share with everybody lessons that we may all learn in our quest for personal development.
Do note that I do not know most of them personally, and so any criticisms of their speaking styles or perceptions of them on stage should not be seen as an attack on their personalities. It’s just a general assessment skills, of what are potential public figures in the future.
Hey, these people will be judged and assessed not just by the locals, they will be seen by the whole world too if they assume higher office too… and it’s my hope that this post can help you in your growth and preparation for future challenges too.
The first post is coming up soon. Watch this space!
Are you a user of PowerPoint? Ever thought of designing and delivering more professionally looking presentations with PowerPoint?
Going around, in my quiet moments, I’ve been observing presentations and instances for learning and sharing with you. And the theme for September shall be dedicated to helping you enhance the quality of the design for your visual slides – most notably those made using PowerPoint.
For starters, I’m already in the midst of preparing a post on the principles of visual aid-designs for your benefit, but in the mean time, for those of you who wish to learn more about the functions of PowerPoint 2007 and things to bear in mind when designing your slides, I thought here are a couple of links that you might find helpful:
What I love about these posts is that the author has taken the pains to actually detail the process by providing step by step instructions about how you can use those functions to enhance your design and presentation.
Furthermore (if you’ve the time), you could actually look through the blog and to find out more about the design and visual-design principles to adhere to.
For all you busy people out there (I know you are one of them!), I’ve taken the liberty the three links is just a start.
Watch this space for more tips you can use to enhance your visual-presentations!
I like this post because of it was structured to included visual aids and a video to highlight certain points about improving our PowerPoint Presentations, and more so how it can be used as a tool for Humour! Oh yes, don’t we all enjoy a good laugh?
PowerPoint is a great tool for displaying visuals that enhance, illustrate, and generally magnify your narrative. It’s been used effectively for years by millions of professionals from such disciplines as academia, engineering, medicine, business, education, government (mostly ineffectively in this case), design, technology, and comedy. Comedy?
PowerPoint as pure comedy gold
Below are a few examples of presenters using PowerPoint to help illustrate their messages. In each case the tool actually enhanced the presenter’s ability to make a connection with the audience and drive their messages home. The first two presentations are by Don McMillan. Don is a former engineer with a Masters degree in Electrical Engineering from Stanford. He gives some good advice on using the PowerPoint tool properly.
Is there life after death by PowerPoint?
Users guide to life
Whoever it was that designed humans did a pretty good job, McMillan says, but they provided no good documentation. McMillan has compiled his own data and shares some of it below in what he calls the Users Guide to Life.
Economics explained in ten bullet points
Standup economist Yoram Bauman (he’s an actual economist too) uses PowerPoint and bullet points to effectively state his case. See, bullet points are not always a bad thing.
Chicken, chicken, chicken
It is said that only about 7% of our messages are expressed verbally. Is it possible, then, to make a connection with an audience and make meaning using traditional death-by-PowerPoint techniques and limiting your vocabulary to one word? Watch this presentation below by Doug Zongkers and find out.
Motivational business presentation by David Brent
No PowerPoint here, but what would presentation comedy be without reviewing a presentation from business guru and Renaissance man David Brent (Ricky Gervais), know for his maverick management techniques and political correctness. Below David gives tips on motivating employees.
(I love to laugh; it’s good for health. I know I’m very slow, but last week I finally received my DVDs of the complete series of The Office (BBC). Believe it or not, I’d never seen it (nor the U.S. version). This show is absolutely brilliant. I’ve become a huge Ricky Gervais fan and just love Extras as well. The subtlety of the humour is priceless and really brings a “smile to the mind.” Hope some of the clips above brought a smile to your mind as well.)
I hope you enjoyed the posts and videos!
To access the full video links, you may check out the permalink to the article on Presentation Zen!
Now this marks the start of my plagiarism from Garr Reynolds!
I came across this entry relating to a conversation that Garr shared with CNN Presenter Richard Quest on the topic of Presentation skills. Now for all of you who wish to gather some tips on presentation from a top-class professional, you’re in luck!
The following’s the conversation between Garr and Richard Quest:
Last week CNN’s Richard Quest was in town filming for the December episode of the CNN Business Traveller show to air in mid December. I was invited to join Richard along with a Canadian expat executive and one of his Japanese staff for the filming of an interview over lunch downtown. It was fun and a real pleasure to have lunch with Richard and swap stories (his are better). If I had any lingering illusions that the life of an international TV news anchor was all “fun and glamour” those have been completely dispelled now. What Richard does is a lot of work. The entire process of filming the lunch took about two hours, and while Richard and the CNN crew were very friendly and even funny, the filming was a very serious, focused affair.
I have admired Richard’s unique abilities as a TV presenter for years. In my book, he’s one of the best. Richard’s voice, style, and delivery does not appeal to everyone, but it appeals to me. Frankly, if no one hates your style (or your product, brand, company, etc.) then probably no one is a big fan either. There is a high price to pay for being average. In any event, I could not let this opportunity go by with out asking this world-famous presenter his tips on making a live business presentation or speech. So, during some of the breaks in filming I asked Richard what he would say to a group of business people hoping to improve their presentation skills. He was very keen to give me a thoughtful answer and went on in detail for quite some time in spite of the hectic schedule. Sure, nothing he said is necessarily new to you or me, but it means a lot to hear it coming from someone of his experience and talent. Below is a summary of some of the tips he shared with me in our conversation.
• It’s a performance. Like it or not, he said, if you are giving a speech or a presentation, you are performing. Of course, people like Richard are at an advantage compared to the rest of us, he admitted, since he does this for a living. Still, it is useful for all presenters to remember that they are, for that moment when they have the floor at least, performers.
• You’ve got to grab ’em by the grapes…
Richard was adamant, animated, and colorful about this tip. Forget the thank yous and small talk at the beginning, you can work that in later he said. At the start you immediately have to grab them and bring them in. Many people he said start their presentations off weakly, meekly. Open with a bang and remember to end your talk by tying the big finish back in with that dynamic opening.
• Engage your audience. Ask questions, look them in the eye, get them involved.
• Slow down, you are in control. This is your show, your stage. Use your voice to emphasize certain crucial points. Don’t just rush through talking points, etc.
• Pay close attention to your audience. Have some empathy for your audience. If they are not getting it or if it becomes clear that you have prepared too much or the wrong material, then switch gears, cut it short, whatever the situation calls for. Good presenters can read the nonverbal cues and act accordingly.
• Tell stories, give plenty of examples. You don’t have to make 14 points. Make a single big point. Most people try to include too much information not too little.
Richard_auckland Again, this is nothing you have not heard presentation experts recommend before. Still, it was good to hear it, not from a presentations coach or consultant, but simply from someone in the field who has made quite a name for himself in broadcasting based largely on solid speaking skills, among his other talents. And in case you were wondering, yes Richard really does talk like that even over lunch when the cameras are off, although his presence and intensity increase just a notch when the cameras are rolling. I think Richard is a great guy and certainly one of the most dynamic and popular anchors on CNN. I’m honored to have had the chance to spend some time with him while he was in Osaka.