One Saturday night we went to a tiny village community centre near Wrexham to see Swingin’ Bill’s Vintage Revue Band. To be honest I wasn’t at all sure what to expect.
Half of our group arrived early and expecting 12 of us in all, we began the necessary task of ‘bagging’ the best places to sit. Cardigans and coats were judiciously placed on seats as we awaited the rest of our gang, much to the irritation of a doughty lady, who, in a very audible aside, made mention that her preferred seating choice was where we had already commandeered. Dressed to impress, in a sparkly top and what she would have called ‘old gold’ trousers (but what might more accurately be described as mustard) she scraped chairs ostentatiously into place until she was satisfied that she had hustled into front-of-house spot.
And I couldn’t help but compare this fascinating foreplay with the arrival of delegates for my group training or speaking events. The contrast being that no-one ever wants to sit near ‘teacher’, front seats being the last to be filled! Yet, you could still feel the uncertain anticipation for what comes next, the concern that the content would be right for us and the hope that it would be worth our time.
Well, I can assure you that we were blown away by Swingin’ Bill! So what did they do so well and how can we translate elements of their performance to our own trainer or speaker performances?
Here’s what you can do:
- Use the right material: The music was a mash of blues, jazz and swing, perfectly suited to the mixed age audience, even enthralling a couple of 10 year old gate-crashers who were drawn to the open French doors, relinquishing their bikes so as to uninhibitedly bust a few moves to the music.
- Allow for audience participation: Everyone joined in, whether singing and clapping along, or strutting our stuff. Even Mustard Trousers shrugged off her earlier grumps to throw herself into some serious ‘Strictly’ swagger.
- Have touches of gentle humour: We had faux flirting between the two lead singers (Swingin’ Bill’s wife being in the audience!), the Welsh singer promising to speak French during her rendition of La Vie en Rose – in reality coming out with a string of unrelated schoolgirl-French phrases – and banter with us and amongst themselves.
- Walk the Talk: They played all types of instruments from the harmonica to drums, guitars, violin and even a bugle, their skill and dexterity was impressive.
- Make us feel glad we came: They created a real buzz, calls for encores and a genuine feel-good factor. All this in a tiny community centre in the middle of nowhere!
A call to all trainers and presenters out there – are you doing this in your workshops and speeches? Will delegates be happy that they have made the effort to attend your events? Or after many years doing the ‘same old’ are you just going through the motions?
Your Reaction: If you want to emulate Swingin’ Bill’s success when training or speaking in public, or you have any success stories of exceeding audience expectations to share, then contact us to arrange a chat with one of the ‘Swingin’’ Stratus team