Last week, I had great privilege of seeing one of my favorite bands live for the first time. And they reminded me of valuable speaking lessons which might help you.
Trans Siberian Orchestra (TSO) has been playing together for 18 years. What makes them unique is that every year, they only play during the holiday season.
There are actually 2 bands – one for each half of the United States. They play 105 shows in 61 cities in the holiday season. The logistics of putting these shows together is incredible. But, what struck me most was the performance of the musicians themselves.
Every day, twice a day for 45 days, these individuals perform the same show. And, it’s essentially the same concert they’ve been presenting for two decades.
Avoiding the Stagnation of Repetition in Speaking
When you play the same material over and over for years, there’s a risk of feeling stale and stagnant. What struck me about the performance was the interaction between the musicians and audience.
Band members repeatedly went to the furthest parts of the stage to engage the audience. Some parts extended into the seats, and some over the floor in front of the stage.
The stages designs encourage a physical connection between the band and audience members. At one point, one of the lead guitarists walked the floor in front of the stage. He frequently stopped to allow people to take selfies with him. TSO understands this critical point – the performance is about the people sitting in front of you. This concept is also critical to public speaking.
Three Keys to Staying Fresh and Present When Speaking
Have you ever listened to a speaker who presented interesting information, but wasn’t memorable? If you haven’t, you’re not seeing enough speakers.
One of the biggest challenges in speaking is to create a connection with your audience. There are three keys to this that the TSO concert reinforced:
1. Enjoy your topic. Only talk about subjects you like and care about. TSO offers a unique blend of traditional Christmas songs presented through a rock-opera format. It’s clear that the musicians enjoy playing. The energy they display shows it. Their interaction with the audience shows it.
2. Know your purpose: How do you want people to Think, Feel, or Act after you speak? The TSO organization has one goal in mind – present the most enjoyable and memorable concert experience of your life. This philosophy runs from the founder to the musicians to the road crew.
In every show, they understand their audience. They know that they’re playing to first time attendees as well as people who return every year. They aim to create a show that appeals on many levels.
3. Internalize your material. Know your presentation so well that you don’t have to think about what you’re going to say. This allows you to be present, and aware of audience reactions.
It’s Not About Memorizing Your Speech
The music that TSO is the same – every day. They’ve rehearsed and tweaked their show so many times that they can react to the reactions. The concert becomes a communication between the band and the audience. They’re not playing at them, they’re playing with them.
Key point: This isn’t about memorization. The best speakers internalize, they don’t memorize.
What’s the difference?
Memorization is committing your speech to memory word-for-word. Internalization is gaining comfort with the flow of your speech. Know your opening, support points, transitions and conclusion.
It’s not a word-for-word commitment. But, you know your material so well that you can go ‘off-script’ to respond to your audience. You can pick up where you left off and still provide the message you want to leave.
Chances are, you won’t be presenting 105 speeches in the next 45 days like TSO does every year. You can learn from them. Remember the three keys to their fantastic show. You’ll become a presenter who speaks with your audience, not at them.
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