I just saw Kathy Griffin (My Life on the D-list) perform here in Wichita. In short, she Rocks. However, my point here isn’t to go on about her (which I would be happy to do). Instead, I want to convey the great example of how a professional presenter can be successful. Here are a couple of important techniques she used that we mortal speakers can use ourselves:
1. Know your venue – Prior to the event, Kathy made sure to visit some local places the audiences would recognize. That allowed her to form a connection with the audience by tapping into their own experiences. Kathy referenced a few things, including her visit to a local donut shop and it’s unique menu items. As a speaker, you probably don’t need to look throughout the city for ideas, but getting to know the company or group you’re speaking to can allow you to connect through either humor or other anecdotes.
2. Know your audience – Kathy has a rather specific audience. She knows her audience and what appeals to them. What’s more, she acknowledges those that don’t fit into that group (with a comedic twist, of course). Your audience may or may not be more diverse. Either way, it’s important to know who will benefit from (or enjoy) your material. Kathy’s style works for her audience. If she were to decide to change styles (i.e. stop picking on other celebrities, start preaching, etc.) she would likely bomb, and lose that audience. The same applies for your audiences. Your material needs to fill the needs of your audience. If it doesn’t, you bomb too.
3. Freshen up your material – Kathy included some of her best material, which has continually worked on her shows and her tours. Then, to keep it fresh, she included topics (behind the scenes dirt) from the recent Grammy and Emmy Awards shows, as well as the CNN New Year’s Eve special with Anderson Cooper (which is what I watched on New Year’s Eve). Like many speakers, you probably have a catalog of anecdotes that you use successfully to make your points. Incorporating stories from recent events (even as in the first point above) can keep your program fresh and allow you to strengthen your connection with your audience. Also, doing so will allow you to keep recurring audiences (like fans, or training contracts with a company) interested and coming back for more.
You may not be a comedian, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn some valuable lessons from some of the best out there. Seeing Kathy perform in real life was a blast. But even if you don’t find her funny, you can still learn from her example. If you familiarize yourself with your venue, know your audience and keep your material fresh you can be great in your presentations.
Just like Kathy Griffin.