The viral linking community has seen a swirl of controversy lately surrounding two videos concerned with juggling. The original clip was taken from a professional corporate events speaker and entertainer by the name of Chris Bliss (no honestly). Stop reading and go watch that link. It has spread like wildfire from blogs and web pages linking to it and people emailing it to their friends. I'm one of those people. I happen to think it's a fabulous piece of performance art. I hope the popularity of the clip has spurred more bookings for the guy.
The second clip is footage of a juggler by the name of Jason Garfield. Jason does much the same routine, but with five balls instead of three. Watch that one. The controversy shows up because of the inflammatory comments associated with the second clip. They were written by Steve Brown when he posted the video on YouTube. If you didn't bother to read them when you clicked through to the video, go back and take a look. He says:
So, there is this video of a comedian/juggler floating around online. He is doing a remarkably simple 3-ball routine, but has timed it to some crappy Beatles song or something, and gets a standing ovation for his awkward, clumsy, and generally goofy-looking routine.
[... edited out...]
Watch the video, and understand: THIS is great juggling. That Bliss guy may put on a good act, but he is not a good juggler. There is a huge difference.
Am I actually going to link this topic to webinars? Yes I am. Watch closely...
Ignoring for a moment the petulant, whiny, and persecuted tone of Steve's writing, he can't seem to figure out the importance of his own message. There IS a huge difference between technical competency and engaging delivery. And if you are going to present a compelling message over the web, you'd do well to study the two clips.
Jason delivers a more technically difficult performance. He also stands straighter, which seems to mean something to Steve (look later in his writings). But Jason's performance is a yawn. He seems disinterested in what he is doing. He is keeping more balls in the air, but he isn't drawing your attention to what he wants you to see, to concentrate on, to experience with him. Chris adds emphasis through his body posture, through his exaggerated movements, through his facial expressions. He invites the audience to share the experience with him. And they do... rising to that standing ovation at the end.
When you are delivering a webinar, you can choose to "keep a lot of balls in the air." You can present more information, more densely clustered, with more supporting evidence than the next guy. Your technical expertise might be impressive. Yet your audience is likely to remember the person who used exaggerated vocal mannerisms and tangible enthusiasm to bring them along for a shared experience. Talk directly to your audience. Share their pain points by saying "We have these problems in the industry" instead of "You have these problems in the industry." Invite them to discover along with you the beauty of your message... "So what can we do about this?"
Examples from the entertainment industry abound. Listen to a professional comedian delivering jokes or observations and laughing at the sheer absurdity of his own story. Do you think s/he truly is suddenly struck by the humor in something they have extensively rehearsed and repeatedly delivered? No... this is the way you share the experience of your message and invite people to come along with you. Listen to a morning radio team or better yet, a slick consumer advertisement on the radio featuring a single voice. Concentrate on the delivery and you'll find that the voices are way over the top, exaggerating the emotional content of their message. It's not realistic conversational style, but it engages the audience and keeps them with you.
I once saw the finals of an international magician's convention where the professionals in the audience voted on the magician of the year, with a performance by each of the nominees. The winner was a guy who did a three-ring linking rings act. This is probably one of the first pieces of magic apparatus every young magician starts with. Every performer in that room knew how it was done. And yet, the gentleman's performance style and presentation of the illusion was so engaging and so convincing that he was voted better than anyone else in the world at the art of magic.
Strive to be like that magician, that comedian, that morning DJ when you give a webinar. Sure, get your technical skills worked out as a foundation (knowledge of the subject, supporting evidence, and so on). But learn how to make your presentation a collaborative undertaking with your audience instead of an emotionless demonstration of your brilliance. You'll be more effective and you won't have to grumble about how people don't appreciate you.