How to Rock an Audience

When I studied theatre, I fell in love with the practice of directing. I loved doing the research – the dramaturgy – into the play or performance pieces we were studying. I was fascinated with the potential and challenge of interpretation. But most of all, I was captivated by the process of performance – of what it took to coach, cajole, push and nurture people through the process in such a way that they would connect and wow the audience.

Over the next few months, I am giving a number of workshops and presentations at various conferences (you can see my list over at Plancast – and don’t forget, you can book me to speak too) – and this means I have to turn this directorial focus around onto myself. This is easier said than done – especially when you work virtually (ie alone) most of the time.

Over the years, I have learned some tricks to get around this challenge:

  • Learn your lines – this one is a challenge for me, as I have always had a problem with learning scripts (I was a much better director than actor). But when you are presenting, you cannot get away from learning your lines. Sites like CuePrompter can help you keep your key story on track.
  • Rehearse – after you have learned your lines, you then need to think about what’s going to happen in front of an audience. How will you sync slides? Is there music or video?
  • Rehearse some more – we used to say that the difference between amateurs and professionals is that amateurs rehearse until they get it right, professionals rehearse until they can’t get it wrong. I have heard that some people will go through their presentation 40 times before going in front of an audience.
  • Record your presentation – setup a webcam or a video camera and present to it. Then sit back and watch it an hour or so later. Make sure there is a solid narrative through your performance. Look for ways to improve that flow

Now, these tips are all about preparation BEFORE you step in front of a room full of people. What can you do when you are in front of an audience? Here are some great tips from the rocking Tara Hunt.

Take a look through Tara’s deck. Is there something that resonates with you? How do you feel about the Hero’s Journey? How do you apply that to your own presentations? Has this worked for you? Or even better – who have you seen who does this well? Share a video link, please!

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