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Owning Your Stage

I live in the world of performance. What often occupies my thoughts (when I’m not on stage) is how I can create and deliver a production that conveys a message, creates an experience, or challenges my abilities.

But, as I say in nearly all of my speeches, “YOU are also on stage every day. What you say, what you do (and how you do it) IS your performance.” Those things convey who you are, what you believe, and whether or not you are credible. Your day to day performances have the capacity to inspire or disappoint – captivate or bore – soar to unexpected heights or fall short of anticipations.

It’s entirely up to you.

The starting point to improving your life is improving your performance experiences. And, regardless of your background, you can do that. Opportunities are all around you.

The Las Vegas Jam Session

For many months, I have been in the process of creating an experience for the National Speakers Association. I am the Producer of the Presenting and Performing Jam Session, which will take place April 11-13 at the Golden Nugget Casino in Las Vegas. I am super excited about this, because I’ve put together a team of performance experts to help speakers, trainers, leaders (and anyone who hopes to create more compelling presentations) add entertainment value, create dynamic experiences, and engage audiences in new and powerful ways.

My team of “Jam Leaders” includes Rich Little (legendary impersonator and comedian), the conductor of Cirque du Soleil, a story development expert who consults with Disney, Pixar, and LucasFilm, phenomenal speakers, entertainers, performance coaches, movement experts, Rolling Stone’s #42 guitarist of all time (Robert Fripp) and even a few “Surprise Guests” – Las Vegas celebrities who will be stopping by. It is going to be a MIND BLOWING event!

So, as I sat down to write this month’s Action Mail (and create an experience for you), many of the details of that anticipated experience continue to swim through my thoughts. Questions like:

“Has Gio confirmed with Lance Burton about his appearance on Sunday?”

“Do we have adequate lighting, staging, and sound to make the performances shine?”

“What will the Showgirls be wearing, and will that offend anyone in the audience?”

Seriously, this is going to be “off the chain!”

So, instead of dismissing these thoughts, I thought I would go with it, share the fun with you, and extend the message so it resonates with your personal experience. You see, there are many vital lessons you can implement today to maximize your performance opportunities. Here are a few for starters.

Preparing for Your Performance: Into Action

  • Recognize You are On Stage – Not only are people always watching you, but in the day and age of video phones, they are all carrying cameras (and uploading to YouTube). What you say and do matters ALWAYS, because you never know who’s in your audience. And when you operate online, your audience is worldwide.
  • Create with Intention – What sells a performance? One word. Confidence.You must know what you want – how you anticipate that experience being received – and take complete ownership of the stage. Not that you must be forceful, but rather comfortable. Your ease translates to your audience and allows them the freedom to relax.
  • Go to Eleven – On a scale of one to ten, where ten represents the highest expectation of your audience, go to eleven. (Spinal Tap fans will appreciate this reference.) To fully engage your audience, you must go further than they expect. Normally, in real life scenarios, expectations are based on predictable experiences. Employ a little creativity and the element of a “positive surprise,” and you’ll quickly stand above 95% of your performance peers.
  • Use your Tools – A seasoned performer understands how to use all the available tools – talent, movement, voice, staging, lighting, technology, and partnerships, to name a few. What tools to you have to draw from? What are your greatest strengths, and are you using them as effectively as you can?
  • Leverage the Power of your Audience – I learned a secret early on in my performance career. When you know you are on stage, and when you can harness the excitement/nervousness of the moment and the collective will of all your observers, you actually become more capable than you could ever be when you are alone. That may be a radical thought, so let me say it differently. When I am on stage and in the right orientation to my audience, I can do things I wouldn’t normally be able to do. The most incredible stunts I have performed, the most compelling statements I have delivered, have been produced on stage, in front of an audience.

Remember that every experience you create will exist first in your thoughts, then in your actions, and ultimately, in the experience of your audience. Your reality is not necessarily their reality. And their reality is the one that matters most.

Cultivate the mindset of a performer. Study entertainment all around you. It’s truly the way we learn, love, and emotionally connect to our world.

Step into the light. Project your voice to the back of the house. And confidently convey what you believe. When you do, your audience will be drawn into your experience, and they will be changed because of it.

Now go hit the stage. You’re on!

Break a leg (that’s performers lingo for “have a great show”),


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