April 8, 2009


The reason I'm running for president is because I can't be Bruce Springsteen. 
--- Barack Obama, Oct 2008

The President isn't The Boss?

I spent months listening to satellite radio and stopped shortly after Sirius merged with XM. Despite the vast choice, I listened mainly to comedy and Bruce Springsteen. E Street Radio played three live concerts each day. I listened to portions of dozens. This gave me an opportunity to enjoy and spot five presentation tips for use in the business world:
  1. Connect
  2. Surprise
  3. Care
  4. Share
  5. Familiarity breeds openness

We learned more from a three minute record than we ever learned in school. --- Bruce
Since followers are volunteers, they can leave forever anytime they want. But Bruce connects with them. His words are easy to follow, meaningful, visual and memorable. And generally optimistic. His performances are energetic and heartfelt.

Lesson for presenters: Speak simply. Make your points clear and memorable. Complexity overwhelms, especially for intangible offerings like financial services. Entertain.


I'm in search of how to take the stuff I've written and make sure the audience hears it fresh again.  --- Bruce
Bruce has gone through many changes over the decades. That draws an audience. Each tour is different. Each performance is different. His stories work well and are the highlights of his concerts.

With Bruce, you can't tell what you're going to get. He changes his playlists. He changes the way he plays. Take Born To Run. In some tours, it's played early in the set and other times later (last night: the final song before the six song encore). The energy level varies. The speed varies. His voice varies. Each performance is unique. The size and enthusiasm of the audience also has an effect.

Lesson for presenters: For various reasons, an attendee may not be ready to act following your presentation. Interest them enough that they want to return. They'll expect a rerun but you can surprise them with changes.

You can easily see/hear that Bruce cares for his audience. His audience reciprocates (the first universal principle of influence). This is rare over a career that's spanned over 40 years. Little Steven explained that in the 1980s, a record could sell 20 million copies. Now 3-4 million is considered exceptional. Yet the E Street Band is more popular than ever. On the Magic tour, they set box office records in place after place in Europe.

Lesson for presenters: A great presentation creates great "word of mouth". You're remarkable, not mainstream. Previous attendees feel like returning and inviting others. You are referable.

Bruce donates his time to support causes such as food banks and encouraging people to vote. Is this sincere? When donating, do the reasons matter? In 1988, I saw Bruce headlining the Amnesty International tour to celebrate the 40 anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. A long history of helping others suggests sincerity.

Lesson for presenters: Supporting worthy causes shows you care about more than yourself. You overcome cynicism about your motives through consistency and time. 

Familiarity Breeds Openness
As you get to like someone, you're more open to them. Listening to Bruce most days for months, I became fond of songs I didn't initially appreciate: much of Nebraska (1982) or the more recent Devils & Dust (2005). Bruce's live performances helped because you could tell the songs mattered to him. 

Lesson for presenters: Once you're accepted, over time your less appealing ideas can get accepted too. Since acceptance takes time, ongoing contact helps.

Since Bruce Springsteen is a different type of presenter, we can benefit too --- without being the President or The Boss. Do you agree or am I just dancing in the dark?


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