Sunday, July 17, 2011

Fois Gras and The Power of Storytelling

Listen to this fascinating food parable told by Chef Dan Barber on (2008):

From the Green Room: Great speakers tell great stories.

For an excellent book on how to tell and use stories, read The Story Factor, by Annette Simmons.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Oklahoma! - Breaking Down the Fourth Wall

The "fourth" wall in theater refers to the imaginary wall between the audience and the action on stage.

One of the most thrilling aspects of Arena Stage's revival of Oklahoma! was the way performers broke down the fourth wall. The small theater in the round combined with the actors' incredible energy made the audience feel like they were part of the action.

Here are some highlights:

One of my favorite moments happened during the dancing in "Farmer and Cowman," I almost had to restrain myself from jumping on stage! I wondered if others felt the same way - and even if this had ever happened!

It was one of the most exciting musical numbers I have ever seen.

From the Green Room: Every time you speak, you have an opportunity to tear down the fourth wall and connect directly to your audience.

Here are three ways to do it:

1. Make your audience essential. Develop your content in such a way that your presentation would be impossible to deliver - without the particular audience you are speaking to.

2. Begin you presentation by asking the audience to do something. (answer a question, raise their hand, stand up, etc.)

3. Move to connect. Step away from the podium and move directly towards the people you are speaking to.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

How to End: Speaking Lessons from Neil Patrick Harris

Which part of your presentation will people remember most?

The beginning and the end, of course.

Which part do we spend the most time on? That's right, the middle.

And which part do we spend the least time on? Sadly, the end.

In the 2011 Tony Awards, host Neil Patrick Harris reminds us of the power of a great ending:

From the Green Room: When you speak, don't skimp on your ending. Save your best for last.

Don't Rely on Your Speaking GPS

Last week, I got lost driving through a neighborhood in DC I actually knew pretty well.

The problem?

I relied too much on my GPS.

Rather than trust my instincts, I chose to follow exclusively on the advice of my GPS - and as a result, kept getting turned around.

Relying on my GPS prevented me from being able to look around and think,
"I've been here before. I know where I'm going, and I can figure out how to get there." I got lost because I was unable be be fully present in the moment.

From the Green Room: When you speak, turn off your GPS and get in the moment. Don't depend on your script. How?

1. Take the time beforehand to figure out your core message.
2. Based on this message, map out a clear outline.
3. Practice, practice, practice.

Then, when you get up to speak, you can move away from your script and be fully present. When the unexpected happens, you can return to your core message - and you won't get lost.