Professional Magicians know how to engage an audience to make a trick magic. They know exactly what they’re going to say and how they’re going to say it. Here are 4 things you can learn from a stand up entertainer to improve your presentations.
1. Script the presentation
I know many people who say, “I am at my best when I a free to ad lib.” I have only one thing to say to that B— S—-!. You are not better. You are worse. And in addition you are simply lazy.
A professional knows exactly what he is going to do, how and when. Robin Williams is perhaps the best improv comedian in the world. But watch him walk through a bit with a TV crew and you will quickly understand his improv performance is rehearsed and scripted. He looks like he is adlibbing only because he knows his material so well.
Not having a script is amateurish. The results are unpredictable and not repeatable. Write down what you’re going to say, review it with a colleague or your manager to help you are saying what needs to be said.
2. Cut the presentation ruthlessly
I have a friend in Las Vegas who had a bit he had been doing for years. It went over well and the audiences loved it. It was about a 10 minute bit. He then was asked to perform it in a new show. But he needed to cut it down to 6 minutes. He did. Next, he was asked to do it for television but he needed to cut it down to 4 minutes. He did. And today that bit is better because he was forced to remove all the fluff that did not add to the bit.
As you review your presentation, cut out anything that is not needed. Superfluous information will serve to only confuse your client and detracts from your message. Say what needs to be said and no more.
3. Practice, Practice, Practice
Rehearse your presentation. Rehearse with a colleague, your manager, a trainer, your spouse, or anyone you can. If you can, recorded or videotape your rehearsals or practice sessions and review the tape. As you review them you will be surprised at all the meaning gestures and body language. You will be surprised at all the meaningless comments and information you’re giving your client. Remove anything that does not add value.
Go back to number two and cut the presentation ruthlessly.
Watching yourself on video, or listening to yourself on tape can be rather unsettling. But it is absolutely critical if you are to be the best you can be.
4. Script your improvisations
If you watch a standup comedian or magician you’ll notice that they engage with the audience and any volunteer they have on stage. They don’t go through their script robotically. They treat their volunteer and their audience as people. They can do so only once they understand their script. Knowing the script allows then to take a detour from it and they know how to get back to.
But here’s the dirty little secret, every audience thinks they are unique. All the unexpected things that audience members do, are not all that clever. They are very predictable. They are not unique. So as a result, comics and magicians have standard lines and bits of Improv they can pull out of a highly rehearsed bag. You need to do the same. The objections your clients have, the questions they ask, their reactions to your questions and statements, are not unique. Have well-rehearsed and scripted responses to all of them.