Communicate Like A Rock Star by Joseph Lalonde | Presentation Skills

Did you ever notice how effective many musicians are at communicating? OK, I know not all of them are (Ryan Adams, I’m thinking of you) but the real stars are experts at it. Most of them have a great mix of talent and training in communicating well.

Communicate Like a Rock Star

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So what is it that makes them great? Joseph Lalonde is going to answer that below. He is a youth leader at Oak Crest Church of God and an awesome writer. He usually writes at his blog, where he shares leadership tools and encourages you to become a better leader, but today we’re blessed by his wisdom here. I encourage you to connect with him on Twitter as well. He’s got some good stuff in both places.

Take it away Joe…

Can you remember the last time you went to a rock concert?

The music was loud. The crowd was excited. The singer may have shared a few words.

There was energy in the room. People were ready to listen to the guys on stage.

They couldn’t wait to get what the band offered.

Have you been able to create an energy like this in your organization? My guess is most likely not.

Your presentations may be dull. They don’t catch the attention of the audience. And those who heard you speak may not remember what you said.

If you’re there, I’d like to encourage you to begin communicating like a rock star. It could change the way you communicate forever.

Create noise and then quiet

Every time I’ve been to a concert, it’s been noisy. There’s the crashing of the drums, the thrashing of a guitar, or the thump of the bass. It’s so noisy you can hardly hear the person next to you.

And yet when the lead singer begins to speak, you can hear him and he’s grabbed your attention.

Why?

Because he had his bandmates create a ton of noise only to quiet down when he decided to speak. There’s a stark contrast between playing and sharing a message.

Create some noise before you speak. Have something exciting happen. And then bring a quietness to the presentation.

guest-postUse the quietness to snare those who need to listen.

Create an image

One of my favorite type of concerts to attend were that of glam bands. They had the hair, the attitude, the energy that made you enjoy the concert even more.

Were they really like that outside of the touring concerts? Nine out of ten times they weren’t. They dressed up for the show to grab people’s attention. Sometimes going to the lengths of wearing wigs and other unnatural items.

You don’t have to go as far as the glam rockers did. But you should be willing to create an image for yourself.

Decide how you want others to perceive you. Work towards creating that image. And then begin living the image.

For if you don’t, people will discover you’re all talk and no action. Yet image is very important when you want to communicate effectively.

Create a message worth hearing

When a band begins to communicate, they’re usually sharing a story that they think the audience will resonate with. It may be a childhood trauma or a recent heartbreak. Whatever it is, they feel it’s worth sharing.

What message are you sharing? Have you created a talk that is worth sharing?

To create a compelling message, you need to have all three pieces to the communication puzzle.

1. Story. Your message should contain a story, a tale the audience can relate to.

2. Emotion and energy.

3. A central point to the message.

Put these pieces together and you can have a message that will hit home and create change.

That is how rock stars attract the attention of their audience.

They’ve created energy and then silenced it. They’ve crafted an image that people are attracted to. And they’ve weaved a message that resonates with the audience.

These are effective pieces to communicating well. Begin to use these tactics and watch your effectiveness increase.

Question: How else have you seen a rock star communicate effectively? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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  • Matt –
    Thanks for having Joe. Enjoyed the analogy. As a musician myself, I often think about the correlation between a good song and a good written piece. Likewise, a good concert and a good speech. Honestly, my time on stage as a musician prepared me tremendously for speeches I’ve given.
    I’ll tell you who REALLY has it down are the musicians who casually tell jokes during their sets as they tune, etc. Off the top of my head, John Mayer is fantastic as it.
    Thanks guys for moving the needle!

    • Good points Matt. I’d venture to guess that if you can get up on stage in front of others and put your musical talent on the line, that speaking does become easier.

      Thanks for stopping by Matt!

      • Bombing a song in a set will humble you VERY quickly. I never thought the two were connected, but once I started writing I saw that they were extremely similar.

        You gentlemen have an awesome Wednesday!!

        • I can only imagine how bombing a song will humble you quickly. It’s not the same but there’s that feeling of bombing a song in Guitar Hero that has a similar humbling effect. (-;

    • Matt, that’s the awesome thing about life, huh? The skills and abilities we learn in one realm can typically transfer over to other parts of our lives. You illustrate that perfectly by your example of taking the stage in a band and then transitioning to speeches.

  • Geoff Franklin

    Good post Joe.

    Rock stars lead the audience. They get them involved.

    “Hold up your phones/lighters”

    “Clap your hands”

    “Jump around” At least at a House of Pain concert.

    • Excellent Geoff. Just like leaders must, rock stars get people to join in. They get participation. They get action!

      As a leader, how can you do this?

  • Kirbie Earley

    This post is a great reminder to me to have the story in the presentation. I am on a constant pursuit to have a better presentation. I often forget the “story” and really kind of struggle with my vision of what a “story” is versus what it means in a presentation. I think I try to hard to separate the two.

    • Stories are an integral part of presentations. In fact, for many, they are the most effective way to communicate.

      • Kirbie Earley

        I agree Matt, which is why it is so important to me to figure it out! Thanks for providing us with this inspiration through Joe!

    • Kirbie, story is what grabs people and makes them interested in the presentation. If you’re struggling with figuring out how to use stories, watch a couple of great presenters (Zig Ziglar sticks out in my mind with his water pump). You’ll see them use illustrations liberally.

      • Kirbie Earley

        Thank you I will do that! On my “to do” list last night was to find some great speakers to watch on YouTube and see what I can do to be better.

        • You might also check out TedTalks. They have amazing presenters and they’re short, most lasting less than 18 minutes.

          • @kirbieearley:disqus start with Shawn Achor’s speech from TedX Bloomington. He starts with a story and humor. One of the better openings I’ve heard.

          • Kirbie Earley

            Will do! Thanks!

          • Kirbie Earley

            Yes I have seen TedTalks and that was on the list I made in the dark last night :)

  • Use humor. Whether your are a Steve Tyler fan or not, you cannot argue that his humor grabbed attention.

    • From Aerosmith?

      • Yes. And former American Idol “judge.” Despite his vulgarity at times, he was a huge hit with viewers and contestants.

    • Huh, I never knew Steve Tyler was known for his humor.

      • I never knew he was on American Idol. :)

        • Steve Pate

          I hate to admit…I did idol him back in the day.

      • He was one of the more humorous judges on American Idol. I think he was a judge for two seasons.

  • Steve Pate

    I love the Rush/Van Halen music in the back ground…now who else caught that???

    Great post and analogy Joesph. I can agree with it all, I would like to interject a thought, take the heavy metal music of the 80’s/early 90’s most songs ran about 6-7 mins, and now take the rock music today, it’s out 3-4 minutes. Not only your music needs to be grabbing, but quick to the point too and memorable.

    Being a musician my self its amazing how much work goes into a 4 min song, I mean hours some times just to perfect it. I don’t see it any different when communicating with your team. Taking the time to prepare helps the sell the vision and direction.

    Great post today also on your blog sight. Thanks Matt for having your blog be a great path for others to walk on!

    • Steve Pate
    • Thanks Steve. That’s an interesting observation about the length of music now compared to yesteryear. Do you think it’s because attention spans are shortening and they need to be more direct or is there something else going on?

      • Steve Pate

        oh I guess it’s all marketing, to fit more commercial spots for radio. With a mix of attention span.

    • Good point Steve! You can’t expect to be a rockstar without some serious practice…

      I know that I personally like to practice my presentations over and over until I have a good rhythm. That let’s me change things up and add elements on the fly much easier. Musicians do that all the time, which makes watching them live so much better!

      Really, that was Rush / Van Halen? I need to listen again!

      • Yes it was…plus some GNR, Kansas, and others. :)

      • Steve Pate

        What can I say, Mtv (when they played music) was my baby sitter when i was a wi lad!

        But I also think you bring up a good point, practice out loud. Hearing your voice and physically speaking is great practice than just hearing your self in your head.

    • I’m so glad you got a ton out of this Steve. That’s why I love having people like @jmlalonde:disqus write here.

  • Love the idea that the contrast in sound helps to catch their attention. I think this can be applied over several areas…sound, color, movement, tactility, etc. The point being that the most memorable (and least boring) presentations / workshops I’ve been involved with are ones that engaged my senses.

    Not an easy thing to do, but I believe it’s well worth the effort!!

    • So true. I’ve also heard of using contrasting images in presentations. So say you’re talking about BIG goals, throw a picture of a tiny mouse on the screen. It’ll engage the mind and get people thinking.