A while back I wrote Part 1 of a post about Public Speaking Lessons from a Drag Show. It was inspired by an experience I had on holiday when I went to see a drag show called MHT, or the Music Hall Tavern. The advertising guarantees that it will be the funniest night of your holiday and looking back it probably was; despite some drawbacks regarding the venue and the food, the cast were talented performers and each number brought something new and fun to watch.
The show inspired me to think about what lessons we could learn when it comes to public speaking. My initial post covered the first six lessons and here are five additional lessons:
- Interact With Your Audience
Each of the three performers continually interacted with the audience; even when they weren’t speaking, they used great eye contact and facial expressions to really connect with everyone in attendance. They also asked questions, found out people’s names and any special celebrations and made people feel special in some way. There was a little bit of audience participation but by speaking with people as they arrived, they had already worked out which audience members would be comfortable with that and would play along during the show.
Lesson: Rather than being talked at, audiences like to be involved. That may be through asking rhetorical questions that get them thinking and responding in their minds, getting them to raise their hand to indicate their views on a particular point or it could be requesting individuals to join you to help with a demonstration to illustrate your point.
- Look Your Best
The costumes for the show were well made, well fitted and had the obligatory and highly appropriate feathers and spangles. Some costumes were designed specifically for comic effect and they helped tell the story. The ‘girls’ were extremely well groomed and each exuded their own style and flair in their makeup, hairstyle and accessories.
Lesson: When you are delivering a presentation or a talk, you are the centre of attention (I know, this is the part most people hate about public speaking); therefore, you need to ensure you look the part and dress appropriately for the situation. Like it or not, people do make judgements about our appearance so make sure you look your best. Find out beforehand what the dress code is and ensure you wear clothing and accessories that are clean, comfortable, flattering and in line with the event.
- Smile and Enjoy Yourself
It was very clear that the performers (and the supporting staff for that matter) were thoroughly enjoying themselves. The energy they exuded from the stage was fun, completely charming and a joy to be a part of which kept us smiling and entertained all evening.
Lesson: If you don’t enjoy yourself, you can’t expect your audience to! Obviously this depends on the situation and the topic of your talk, but a smile is one of the quickest ways to build rapport so share yours freely along with your passion and enthusiasm for your topic.
- Commit To Being the Best You Can Be
What I particularly loved about the show was each of the performer’s complete commitment to their character, their performance and the overall show. They gave everything they had to bring it alive and their energy was infectious. Every move was purposeful and they were completely present and focused on the audience from beginning to end.
Lesson: As a presenter, you should be aiming to give your best every time you speak. You will be judged on the quality of your talk, the amount of effort you put into your preparation and the way you deliver your material. Be authentic, passionate, and fully present; and concentrate on delivering your message in a way that is engaging and meaningful to your audience.
- Evaluate Your Performance
Each audience member was encouraged to complete a feedback form providing a rating and comments on the food, the venue, the show and the overall experience. There was an opportunity to provide our contact details to go on the mailing list for the show’s upcoming UK tour and, whilst I’m not rushing back to see it again, a lot of people were very keen to be kept informed. This helps with marketing of course and is also great way for the producers to review and evaluate the show on an ongoing basis.
Lesson: Always review your presentation to help you to continue to develop your skills. Ask yourself “What went well? What didn’t go so well? What would I do differently next time?” (Film footage of your presentation and the audience’s reactions will assist with this process.) Where possible ask your audience for feedback as well; and if you are keen to grow your mailing list, a well-designed feedback form offering to email additional material relating to your talk can be a good way to obtain their contact details (just be sure to let them know you’ll be adding their details to your list!)
Mel Sherwood is a pitch and presentation specialist who prepares ambitious entrepreneurs and business professionals to take centre stage, embrace the spotlight and present with more confidence, credibility and conviction. She is a multi-award winning speaker, trainer and coach and the founder of Grow Your Potential, which specialises in supporting individuals and organisations to design and deliver winning pitches and presentations.
Mel’s background includes over 20 years’ experience in public, private and not-for-profit organisations in Australia and the United Kingdom and she has also worked as an actor, presenter and singer. To find out more about Mel’s talks and programmes go to www.grow-your-potential.com or for public speaking and pitching tips follow Mel on Twitter @Grow_Potential