Lessons from The Boss

presentation_tips.jpgI love my job. And I love my family. But there are times I’m “this close” to throwing it all away to just follow Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band around the country. He’s out on tour again, and I’m slated to see him at least four times this tour alone. 

If you’ve not been to a Springsteen show, there’s nothing else like it. His recent show in Boston was three and a half hours long, and included the 66yearold Springsteen crowdsurfing during Hungry Heart and simply never taking a break from the first song to the last. 

Suffice it to say, a Springsteen show and a presentation at a meeting of a Board or Working Group have very little in common. Or do they?

In fact, if you watch The Boss closely, you can garner a few lessons for presentations of all kinds. Here are a few:

  1. Tell a story. Springsteen often introduces a song with a story. They’re the stories of his childhood. Stories of love. Stories of But they resonate, and you remember them. Why? Because they’re stories. So often I go to meetings where people “present” but fail to tell a story. Storytelling is a compelling way to get your point across. Work on an interoperability standard comes to life when you tell a story about what it means to the end user. So rather than coming up with five more bullet points on your next presentation, think about a story that illustrates your point.
  2. Energy is infectious. I’ve gone to dozens of Springsteen shows. Sometimes when I arrive I’m worn out from the journey of getting there, or just from a busy day. But invariably, Bruce’s energy rubs off on me.I leave with a greater bounce in my step than when I arrived. Remember that when you’re presenting. You should represent the high point of the room’s energy for the topic—put another way, if you’re not excited, don’t expect your audience to be. And remember, according to my Bruce Fan app (yes, I do have one), Bruce has played “Born to Run” live 1,343 times and still brings the enthusiasm. Surely you can muster the energy to bring some enthusiasm to your one and only budget discussion of the year.
  3. Build a full team. There are times in Springsteen shows when someone else takes center stage. Part of the power of Springsteen’s music is that it’s not just him—the saxophone or guitar solo becomes an amplifying effect of Springsteen’s own voice and words. Think about that with a presentation. Do you need to be a soloist? Or are you better off with a band? Perhaps there are parts of your presentation—even short ones—that would be better done by another team member.
  4. Involve the audience. Springsteen shows are participatory. And it’s just people dancing and singing along. Bruce points the mic to the audience at times and has the crowd take a lyric. And while PowerPoint presentations are rarely done for a full arena, don’t miss the chance to point the mic to the crowd. Pause for feedback, or build questions into your presentation. An involved audience is an engaged one. And an engaged one remembers your key points.

Just a few tips from The Boss.

 

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