When I was fresh out of school and poor and starving, I worked at Elephants Deli in Portland slinging potato salad and frothing cappuccinos (dude, you so scalded my foam). At the time, another struggling voice–this one with intentions toward comedy–worked in the bakery. To proof his creations, he would tell us about his jokes. That is, he’d describe why he needed a priest, a rabbi and an imam, and why they all needed a duck. He never got around to telling the actual joke. The results were predictable.
A similar thing happens in conference rooms across America when teams gather to prepare for The Big Presentation. All too often, the presenter will run through the slide show and describe the kinds of things he will say to accompany each slide, rather than rehearse the presentation itself. It’s a strange thing to watch. I call it the Everybody Wants to be a Rockstar, but No One Wants to go to Band Practice phenomenon: “Okay, when we’re on stage I’ll play E-A-D and you sing these lyrics. And the rhythm section will do their thing.” And again, the results are predictable.
We need to shift this mindset: we need to assume we’re always on stage and everything is a presentation. Even rehearsals. It doesn’t matter whether your audience is your customers, your investors or your fan club. Remember that all the world’s your stage, and all the people in it are your audience.1
1 I love to bastardize Shakespeare.