The best story in the world p1, supported by the most amazing media p2 is nothing if the delivery fails. This is the fear of every performer whether they are a presenter or one of the biggest rock stars in the world singing on behalf of Bob Dylan as his acceptance of the Nobel Prize for Literature literally in front of the entire world. It’s all about the delivery.
If you don’t know what happened then please watch this all the way through. Watch the singer Patty Smith. Watch the audience. Watch the conductor. Watch the response. Listen to the applause. If you know what happens, immerse yourself in the song, written in 1962 in fear of the post apocalyptic world many fear we were rushing towards again.
There’s so much to learn here but the most important is how you, as the audience, feel at the end. I was so very close to tears. The song itself is heartbreaking. The passion of the singer is undeniable. The response of the crowd is incredible. And yet she made a mistake, a big mistake, an obvious mistake. What did you feel for her as she stopped? What did you feel for her as she finished? Did she share her message? Was it valuable?
So often we tell ourselves as presenters that we are striving after perfection. We fear any failure, any weakness, anything less than total excellence. That becomes a crushing pressure that often prevents effective delivery. Our critique of ourselves is brutal. The reality is that the audience wanted her to go on, they invested even more in her because she did go on, they were overwhelmed by the result.
As a presenter it is okay to be nervous. It is okay to make mistakes. Importantly we should see that from the audience’s point of view and not from our own, unforgiving and destructive view. Presentation in any form is about being human and audiences value that, our frailty, our honesty and our willingness to carry on. That piece was actually made more emotional by the problem. It changed the delivery but the value to the audience, in her continuing, was greater. It is all about the delivery, but only in the view of the audience.
What did you see my blue eyed son? The New Yorker.
Great post, Ross!
Don’t break the spell.
You may stutter your incantations, you may stir the cauldron in the wrong direction, or you may become lost in the spark and the smoke, but don’t break the spell you are casting.
The audience wants you to succeed. The bumps and mistakes are surmountable with acceptance, good intent, and earnest, forward motion; perseverance in adversity can transform the presentation into an even more powerful message than perfection could have ever achieved.
Profuse apology breaks your presentation spell faster than a snap of the hypnotist’s thumbs.
Don’t take them out of a spell they want to be under.
Thanks Tim. Are you in “The Scottish Play” somewhere?
You saw what I did there — and I saw what you did there!
Lang may yer lum reek, Ross.