What Makes A Performance Fabulous (or Mediocre?)

Jim Cantore is an international superstar for doing the weather. No, I am not talking about his reports standing in a three-foot storm surge as a hurricane bears down on him. Anyone can make those reports riveting. Cantore rose to prominence because he made the day-to-day, run-of-the-mill, nothing-happening weather interesting to watch. He made the mediocre interesting – all through his performance.

There are going to be times when the information you are presenting to an audience is less than intriguing. It might be overly technical, or very rudimentary. It may be about a product that can be explained in 10 seconds, but you have to fill 15 minutes. You still have to make your audience not only listen, but also take an interest in what you have to say so they will remember it later. You have to channel your inner Cantore.

Be Enthusiastic
You are never going to convince someone to be attentive toward a topic if you, the presenter, don’t appear to be interested in it. Every moment you are speaking you need to be conveying with your voice and body language that this is the most important thing that has ever happened.

Have you ever seen an infomercial? If you were ever home sick on a weekday in the 90’s I know you did. Every one of those people made you believe that the product they were selling would change your life for the better. It wasn’t the bad sweaters doing it, but instead the sheer energy they had when speaking. They made you want to spend the $19.99 to get the perfect potato peeler/hand blender/pet hair remover. Now, while you don’t want to go that big, or that ugly, you do want to think of those sales people as your spirit animal. Hold that energy in your mind and think about it while you are speaking.

Make it Funny
Humor resides in the mundane. Jerry Seinfeld made a very successful career around it. Find the moments of humor inherent in the information you are presenting. If nothing else, you can joke about how boring it is. Do not do that though, unless it is your last resort. You want your audience to be laughing at your jokes, not thinking the whole presentation is in jest.

Use Examples, Metaphors, and Hyperbole
You know why your cousin is always talking about that time he met The Rock in the Tampa airport? Because it makes him more exciting. You can do the same thing with your mediocre subject matter. Tie it somehow to topics, people, or things that are exciting or beloved. Do you have a celebrity that loves your product? What interesting things happened during development? Did The Rock mention you when he was in Tampa? Use all these things.

If you don’t have anything that directly relates to your content, use something wonderful that doesn’t. Metaphors are a great way to do this. Give yourself permission to be creative with your language until you find one that works for the situation without coming off as hokey or absurd.

When thinking of metaphors don’t be afraid to be grandiose and larger than life. Hyperbole can do a lot to help you sell your content to your audience. PT Barnum built an empire on it. You probably don’t want to go full “Greatest Showman” but a little exaggeration never hurt anyone.

Anyone can make exciting content seem electrifying, and the opposite is also true as there are some who can make it utterly dull. The real art is making the mundane or downright boring sound interesting and magical. And you won’t even have to go full Cantore standing in the path of a tornado to make it happen.