This article shares Dr. Richard Niles' six performance rules applicable to presenters.
As in any profession, trainers, teachers and speakers can become too singular looking within their profession for platform skill advice. It is sometimes helpful to expand horizons and examine perspectives from other disciplines.
In a prior article we examined John Henry Cardinal Newman’s (February 21 1801-August 1890) seven rules for writing a presentation. Cardinal Newman’s perspective was writing church sermons. This article examines presenter tips from an entirely different perspective: that of a professional musician.
Dr. Richard Niles is a composer, producer and arranger. He was the musical director for Cat Stevens and has written and arranged music for a wide array of artists including Paul McCartney, Tina Turner, Tears for Fears, Grace Jones, James Brown, Ray Charles, Kylie Minogue and Mariah Carey. He is also, like this Examiner, a graduate of Berklee College of Music.
In an interview published in the Spring 2013 issue of Berklee Today, Dr. Niles lists six tips for musical artist success. These tips are equally relevant to trainers, teachers and public speakers. The tips, with their application to presenting, follow.
- Have something to say – It is critical that a musical act differentiate itself by delivering something original in concept and execution. It is also critical for presenters to have an original take on the subject being presented. Speakers can set themselves apart by delivering their own theories and applications. Trainers and teachers must present information in ways that make it compelling and memorable.
Communicate what you have to say in readily understandable language – Successful musicians know what their songs mean and communicate that meaning through clearly written lyrics and powerfully delivered emotion. Trainers, teachers and speakers must know the language idioms of their audience and communicate information in ways they understand.
- Know who your target audience is and how to communicate with it – Musical acts must know which material and performance techniques will reach their audience. They must also know, as Harold Stolovitck shares in Telling Ain’t Training http://www.amazon.com/Telling-Aint-Training-Harold-Stolovitch/dp/1562867016, how to translate expert observations into declarative statements.
Be relevant to you target audience – Musicians must keep in mind that, although they are in an artistic profession, music is public art. It must exist in and respond to the desires of the listener. Presenters must, likewise, know what information, examples and cultural references will matter to their learners. To draw a clearly absurd example, music from the 1950s playing as participants enter the presentation room would fail for attendees who listen to rap.
- Have a professional attitude towards your career – - Musicians seem to live in their own world but must, to be successful, be on time, be prepared and be focused. Presenters who arrive unprepared, start late, deliver rambling content and end late are not professionals and will lose future business.
Strive to make fans like you enough to become interested in you – Successful musical acts do not exist in the absence of fans. Trainers, teachers and public speakers likewise require an audience to perform. In both the musical and presenting professions, advocates are essential. When you present yourself as a normal person who happens to have brilliant ideas—as compared to a special person who has consented to share your brilliance—it is far easier to gain advocates.
Although Dr. Niles tips are musician-centric, they are also helpful guidelines for presenters.