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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Garth Brooks Approach to Keeping the Audience in the Palm of Your Hand!

So we all know there is only two kinds of music...country and western. I love this article from Carmine...enjoy.

5 Ways to Deliver a Presentation Garth Brooks Style

Jul. 26 2011 - 12:10 pm | 614 views | 0 recommendations | 1 comment
Garth Brooks
Garth Brooks in Concert
My wife and I recently returned from Las Vegas where we attended a Garth Brooks performance at the Wynn hotel.  I had no intention of writing a column about it.  I’m not a music critic, after all.  But after watching Garth captivate a crowd for nearly two-and-a-half hours with no band and just an acoustic guitar, I realized that I had not watched a “concert.”  Instead I had witnessed a magnificent presentation of his “product”—his songs.  I also realized that the way this showman delivered his material carries valuable lessons for communicators in any field.  Here are 5 ways to deliver your next presentation Garth Brooks style.
Provide an education. Garth’s fans expected to hear his hits.  But Garth gave them something more—an education in contemporary music history.  He sang his first big hit–Much too young to feel this damn old—to open the show but then surprised us by saying, “This isn’t where it began.  It began in the 1960s when I was the youngest of six children…” For the next portion of the show Garth talked about the early country influences on his life as well as the other genres and popular music that influenced his music.  He played songs from Simon & Garfunkel, Don McLean, Elton John, James Taylor and others.  He would then demonstrate how he added a layer to those styles to write his hits.  “If you take Bob Seeger, add George Strait country lyrics, you get ‘Thunder Rolls,’” Garth said as he started playing one of his most popular songs.
Your audience expects you to talk about your product or service.  Surprise them by giving them an education as well.
Tell stories. Garth set up each song with stories.  The stories were mostly personal anecdotes about growing up in Oklahoma, his parents, and early memories of playing in bars.  But he also told many stories about how certain songs were developed or why they were written the way they were.  Stories are emotional.  Stories connect a performer with his or her audience.
If you want to really connect in a meaningful way with your audience—tell more stories.
Balance humor and drama. Speaking of stories, Garth perfectly balanced humor and drama.  Some stories had the audience buckling over with laughter while others left the audience in tears.  Some were hilarious, others touching, sometimes both.  Garth told the story of the first time he met one of his idols, James Taylor (one of Garth’s daughters, Taylor, is named after the musician).  They were slated to perform a song together.  During a brief rehearsal, Garth was so star-struck he could hardly remember the words to “Sweet Baby James.” The audience was in stitches as Garth demonstrated how he kept choking.  He then slowed down his delivery, lowered his voice and recounted how Taylor stood up, walked over to Garth, gave him a hug, sat back down, picked up his guitar and started the song again.  This time Garth remembered the words.  Very touching.
Tell stories but remember to blend drama and humor.
Encourage audience participation. Garth encouraged the audience to sing along with many of his songs.  He also asked the audience what they wanted to hear and took spontaneous requests.
Don’t just “present” to your audience.  Include them.
Express joy. It was clear that Garth loves music, period.  The genre hardly matters to him.  When he talked about the music that inspired him, Garth had a smile a mile wide.
Your audience is giving you permission to be passionate.  It’s okay to express the joy you have for a company, a person, a product, or a service.  Be genuine, of course.  But be joyful.
Carmine Gallo is the communications coach for the world’s most admired brands. He is a popular keynote speaker and author of several books including the bestsellers, The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs and The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs. His new book, The Power of Foursquare, will be released by McGraw-Hill in October, 2011 Follow him on Twitter: carminegallo

Saturday, March 26, 2011

IS IT BETTER DEAD OR (A) LIVE?


I have been lucky this week. It is not often I get the chance to go out to see live theatre twice in one week but circumstances fell into place and lucky for me.
Really, luck had nothing to do with it as I try to get to see (and take the family) to as much live theatre as it humanly possible and living in Palmy means there is plenty of opportunity.  For a small city we have a great range of options available all year round and rarely would a week go by when there is not a new production to see (and I am not talking about the Wiggles on Tour).
This week it was Shakespeare in the Park with a “Midsummer Night’s Dream”.  A creative and alternative production of this classic, sculpted to life by Jaime Dorner, our resident UCOL Performing Arts Director.  What a treat!
This was followed by yet another superb production from the collaboration of Palmerston North Girls High and Palmerston North Boys High. “GREASE”, well did that take me back to my youth? You betya...and I sang along! Chris Burton, “I am hopeless devoted” to your direction of these talented students (is that bad? couldn’t resist).
So that was the week-that-was......but what you may ask, has this got to do with Dead or (A)live?
My week-that-was has got me all worried that you guys don’t see enough live theatre.  We should all do it, all the time.  Ditch the TV and get out in front of real people, telling real stories. 
I will, wherever possible take the entire Costello tribe with me.  Even Miss 6, late as it can sometimes be, enjoys every moment and given the choice of sitting at home in front of the telly they all jump at the chance to head to the theatre.
So what does it do for us?                                  
  • ·         It tunes us into other people, their emotions and their decisions.
  • ·         It allows us the chance to watch and learn without the concerns that real life brings.
  • ·         It helps us to develop a critical eye for reality.
  • ·         It trains us to focus and pay attention...no rewind on the stage.
  • ·         It provides us with opportunities to be part of an audience, to feel the tensions and the emotions around us.
  • ·         It provides the fodder for real discussion and debate.
So my challenge to you...live theatre is not just about people running around the stage in costumes, not just for the arty fartys, not just for the literature loving academics amongst us...it is for all of us.  Humans have been telling stories this way since time began. It’s what makes us different from the other critters roaming the planet.

There are more ways to enjoy it than you might think, here are just a few:
·         A live sports game (one day cricket is a blinder, not test mind you...nothing dramatic about test cricket, I say).  Loads of tension and you just don't get on the TV, stacks of drama, real people with a goal, wanting real results. If that’s not drama, what is?

·         Live music, a band or solo performer...WOW.

·         Visit a court room...if you can get in, many sessions are open...heaps of drama there. Although sometimes the actors leave a lot to be desired but watching a great barrister at work is indeed a performance in itself.

·         Don’t turn your nose up at school productions either. You don’t have to know anyone in the show to buy a ticket.  The hours of work and professional focus is often truly inspirational. The little kids love these and they are really affordable too.

QUESTION: What is dead? Answer: Anything two dimensional (that includes Shrek 3 in 3D)
QUESTION: What is live?   Answer: Anything with real people telling real stories.
To finish I would like to steal (or borrow) a quote from our local theatre promotion a few years back.
Theatre is life, television is furniture!
(Disclaimer...I am a true film buff too and a great movie it truly a work of art, I am only suggesting you share your love around)

Monday, March 7, 2011

How much is too much?

Cake, wine, sleep.....there are many things that beg the question...how much is too much?  In this weeks blog I am referring to talking.
Earlier last week my husband and I sat down to enjoy a programme with Nigel Latta and his witty advice on how to live with teenagers.  We already have one teenager and another on the way and we certainly feel like we need all the help we can get.  While I chuckled often,  Mr Costello laughed out loud at the top of his lungs the whole time.  So, what was so funny? On closer consideration, it became clear that what Mr Costello was finding entertaining was quite different to what I was enjoying.  He was indeed in fits of laughter at the advice given to mothers to "shut up and say less" when talking to their teenage sons (I was chuckling at the prospect of Mr Costello having a deep and meaningful conversation with the teenage daughter about what was on her mind).
So how much it too much? (in this case I am talking about laughing at me!)
After the programme I discovered that I was in a particularly grumpy mood and this was simply down to the fact that my partner in parenting had "laughed too much" at what he saw as my flawed parenting techniques.  So what if I find it cathartic to berate the 14 year old for at least ten minutes as to the reasons why I find it offensive to see his underwear on the bathroom floor every morning. It makes me feel better....ok so I admit he glazed over at 10 seconds but I am also doing him a great service.  Should my darling boy, somewhere down the track, find himself in a loving relationship with a lovely girl, he is going to have to have developed some strategies to cope with female communication techniques.  Simply put, I am just doing my job as a parent preparing him for life!
So I think Mr Latta....Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus and that is the end of it.  While I recognise my follies, I don't intend to do "much" about it....
And on a different note, Mr Latta does a fantastic job in the art of extemporaneous speaking, a fine example in fact...although, what is with the meaningless pacing back and forth, drop that and you will get 10 out of 10 from me.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Life is like a teabag......you don't know how strong you are until you get into hot water.

I have been putting off writing this weeks blog. What can I write in light of sombre mood that has swept over us.  How does anything we do on a day to day basis make any sense in light of  the extreme .......going through the motions of everyday life while our brothers and sisters in Christchurch reel about in a situation so grim it is difficult to comprehend.
Like many of you, I have been following the progress of rescue workers on the TV and radio, hoping and praying for another good news story and it is fair to say they are few and far between. Worrying about friends and family.
A positive light has radiated from the awesome communicators that have tirelessly provided the rest of the world with the news, minute by minute.
I would like to make particular mention of Bob Parker, Mayor of Christchurch. If ever we had a role model in the field of communication, he is the man.  He has constantly thinking of his audience, providing honest and consistent information with a genuine human touch.  He has, I am sure, provided the people of Christchurch with hope and stability in the most hopeless and unstable of times.  It is hard to imagine how tired he must be, how worried he must be about his own family and friends.  He is a role model to all of us.
Throughout the country, people are giving their all to help in whichever way they can.  Here in Palmerston North I see and hear about people making a difference.  Families have said goodbye to parents in the many Army trucks heading south, we have not seen the man of our house for more that an hour or two since Tuesday while he and his team make sure the air transport systems stay safe and functional, friends working 12 hours shifts in "makeshift" call centres, I see teachers in classrooms debriefing and calming worried children, the list goes on and on....and yet in many ways we all feel so helpless. I commend you all, doing your job to the best of your ability is making a difference, it is helping.
and....when the 6 year old asked me today "Mummy, why did God make the earthquake" I was quick to respond "I think he did it to remind us how to look after each other" and I think we are all doing a very good job of that.  Together we make the difference. Kia kaha NZ.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

"I don't want to look like a dick"

This is a response that I have been getting quite a lot this week. Why, you may ask?  The answer is simple....our new class "Adults Act Up" A drama class for beginners.  Being the eternal entrepreneur and optimist I thought this course will be sold out in an instant.....not so. Not being one to give up easily, I decided that some additional market research was required so I set out to find why people were seeming so hesitant to join in.
Here are some of the responses (excluding the former aka blog title)... 

No way, you couldn't pay me to do it!
I'd rather die!
Sounds fun but I am too scared!

There were also the people that just turned pale, gaped and walked away...these were not strangers I hasten to point out. These are people that I have personal knowledge of and had selected them as being the personality types that may enjoy this kind of leisure activity. Many of them already involved in the arts.
So, why blog about this?  I guess I am concerned that as adults and parents we spend much time and many resources ensuring that our children are confident connected learners who take risks and are open to new ideas. So why are we not modeling this behavior......OH NO, WE ARE SCARED TO MAKE FOOLS OF OURSELVES...and rightly so, I guess.  As adults we are encouraged to keep "risk taking" to a minimum in almost all aspects of our lives and I think that this is to our determent. We miss out on many opportunities to learn and grow, to met new and interesting people.  A beginners acting class may not be your thing but how on earth are you going to know unless you try.  (I seem to recall similar advice from my mother about broad beans...tried them, still don't like them) but I think you may have my message by now.
Just in case, my message to you. When faced with a new and interesting offer ask yourself "What is the worst thing that can happen?" "Can I live with that?" THEN  Feel the fear and do it anyway!

PS: The class has 6 very scared participants starting next week. Good on them!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Keeping the Flow

One of the distinctive aspects of the English language is the use of the "neutral vowel".  In phonetic language is is seen as the upside down 'e' (which incidentally I cannot find on my keyboard!).  It gives English speech is flow and it links the sounds of the language together.
There are a couple of particular uses of the neutral vowel that seem to be dropping away and it is my opinion this is just another nail in the coffin of our beautiful language.
One rule worth noting is the pronunciation of the word "the".  There are two ways to say this...."the" and "thee"..and there is a rule and it's easy.
Say "the" when the word it is before starts with a consonant sound.
Say "thee" when the word it is before starts with a vowel sound.
So  "thee apple" and "the banana".
WHY?  It makes sense......saying "the apple" creates two jerky type  sounds "ah" and 'a" which sound...well, just ugly....."thee apple" flows...try it......you will see (it's not going to make your speech posh or snooty, just easier to listen to).
On another note.....
 Did you know there are no "s" sounds in the Maori language?  When Europeans first arrived to NZ, the Maori were reputed to have called them the "hissing people".

Monday, January 31, 2011

Be Nice!

This week has been very busy with people phoning for new enrolments in the business.  This great and one of the fantastic things I have discovered this week is that I need to be patient (or more as the case maybe).
Several phone calls have come from people with English as a second language, they are wanting help for themselves or for their children.  They are often very difficult to understand and interpreting their needs is at times a big mission.  BUT of course I slow down, keep it simple and be nice because they are a potential client...and we like those!
This leads me to ponder my intolerance when I phone  a business who outsource to international call centres (eg Telecom)....that feeling of dread, will they understand me, how long will it take to get my message across, impending doom and frustration creeps up on me before the call is even connected.
So, now imagine what it must be like for the person at the call centre (and it is a real person after all) ..they have worked hard to learn English, they have a good job that pays their bills and they have to put up with me an my shocking attitude to our differences...how awful must that be.
All I need to do is SLOW DOWN, KEEP IT SIMPLE AND MOST OF ALL BE NICE...just like I am with my potential clients when they ring.  I have not had the chance to try out my new attitude as yet...but I will keep you posted....worth a try don't you think?
REMEMBER: Successful communication is about the receiver not the sender!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Big Mistake

A guy rang us yesterday, this is how the conversation went..."hey, can you guys help me with the speech I have to give at my daughters wedding?"......... "of course, would love too...where are you at with it?"......."It's all written, I just need you to look over it and let me know if it needs any changes.  I'll email it to you."
This leads me into this weeks blog. I struggle with the approach that still dominants not only many individuals but also most of our schools and major learning institutions.

Please note: WRITING GOOD A SPEECH IS NOT THE KEY TO A SUCCESSFUL CONNECTION WITH AN AUDIENCE.
Is that loud enough for you!
As a teacher, ongoing student and adjudicator of the "Art of Public Speaking" the frustration is sometimes overwhelming!
For your reference there are 3 kinds of speech delivery:
1. Manuscript (fully read either from a paper or PowerPoint presentation)
2. Memorised (basically a manuscript delivery that you have spent hours memorising)
3. Extemporaneous (prepared, planned, rehearsed but delivered in a natural, relaxed manner allow you to connect with the audience).

There is a time and place for each method but your daughter's wedding is most certainly the place for the extemporaneous delivery.  In my opinion, most circumstances require this style of delivery.
Of course there is a lot more to this science than this but I urge those of you who do get the opportunity to speak in public to get some advice, build some skills and save us all from the tedious job of listening to you read your script or read with you, a painstakingly prepared PowerPoint presentation. Perhaps you could just email it to us and we can take in with a substantial glass of vino while sitting the LazyBoy!
No offence intended and the man on the phone....he is coming in next week for a session on how to connect with his audience in an extemporaneous way!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Do we need to speak properly English?

Fink back to a time when fings were simple, when Noo Zuland was a place of woks and wabbits, where choodren drunk moolk everyday as skool and the noos weeders had posh accents that sounded like the Queen. 
So what has changed?  In the 50's and 60's it was fashionable for parents to send their children off to "Elocution" lessons with a teacher who was generally an elderly lady who took lessons for pin money in her front room.  As an emerging nation many saw it as important that we could correctly pronounce the Queens English and it was certainly one of the key factors that distinguished your children from the working class.
In the 40 or so years that has passed, we now have a very distinguishable 'kiwi' accent which is a delight.  It distinguishes us from the rest of the world, it blends us together.
But I draw the line on some things.....bad habits and substitutions in pronunciation and articulation are a major issue today. I am not sure where this has snuck in to our language but as a parent I do tend to think that many of us don't encourage our pre-schoolers to ditch the baby talk before they get to school and want to enjoy the cute factor for as long a possible.  So when young James is Prime Minister of NZ, the rest of us are not going to be saying "isn't is cute how he says wadicle"!
We are seeing more and more people who "fink" and don't "think" having completely dropped the "th" sound from their speech.  "Woks" and not "Rocks", "Choodren" and not "Children" are the key offenders and then there is the annoying sibilant "s" grating away. This particular blog was inspired tonight by a TVNZ correspondent with a very annoying sibilance issue.....come on TVNZ, you sorted out the weather lady, we know you can do it!
(It is important for you to note that I am not referring to speech language issues here but merely bad habits out of control).
I often hear intelligent, articulate people in important positions scrambling their way though our language and there is simply is no need for it.   With some advice, commitment and execution of simple exercises all issues can be simply tidied up.....it is no more challenging that starting an exercise regime.  So if you are a "finker" stop "finking" and do something about it.....

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

and the blogging begins.....

Two big milestones for me this week, I am an official "Twitterer" and now a "Blogger'.  With a little more time over the holidays there has been some thinking space to contemplate adding these forms of communication to the business and here we are.
Looking at demographic of our students and the growing number of adults we have as clients, everything I read tells me that online communication has become the preferred mode and it is here to stay...for better or worse.
Now, some would suggest that online communication is in direct conflict with the principles that Tall Poppies Group work so hard to deliver.  I strongly disagree.  As a society we are increasingly distancing ourselves from each other, for many of our young people, interpersonal communication is through instant messaging and while writing a report or posting a blog are skills they have mastered, ask them to stand in front of their class or colleagues to deliver a presentation and they are way out of their depth.
So we do need to work together.  Just as us oldees need to gain confidence to create a facebook account, there is a whole generation of people who need to gain confidence to communicate.....so it looks like we are both here to stay.
Stay watching as I feed you ideas, tips and thoughts about the work we do and how we can add real value to people's lives.