August 31, 2011

Using all your tools: Adele tells a story

If you watched the MTV Video Music Awards, you might have seen the following performance by Adele of her song, "Someone Like You." If you didn't, please take a few minutes to watch below. And then take a moment to think about what public speaking lesson you might learn from her.

This is an emotional performance, no doubt. Adele tells a story here, but she tells it not just with her words, but with her voice, gestures and facial expressions. She builds the emotion of the story to a crescendo, drawing in the adience subtly at first and then with raw and palpable sorrow and anger toward the end.

As much as many business presenters would like to leave emotion out of presentations, your message just doesn't have as much impact without an emotional component.

As a speaker you are privileged to have the use of your face, body and voice to convey the emotional core of your story. Your presentation is not just words; if that were the case, you could e-mail everyone a report and stay home. There is a reason we present in person, and that's to make a case, to stand up and face our audience with all the tools available to us.

Take this lesson from Adele. She doesn't have flashy visuals, a shocking costume or an orchestra behind her. She simply tells her story, using all the tools at her disposal, and tells it spectacularly.

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