Fame at last

Hardly. But thrilled and honoured to be asked by Russell to speak at Interesting 2007. So will anyone bother to listen to me amongst such a stunningly diverse bill? As Mr. Davies knows, my worry is that it will be like a series of dodgy turns at Leeds City Varieties. Myself the dodgiest. Of course.

I intend to say very little. I will, as ever, be ludicrously ambitious and attempt to recreate a far lengthier version of a practical exercise I roll out with different clients.

It is a vital question – why do you listen and more crucially, remember. I am fascinated by this question. Responses with any group, from coporate banks, to ad agencies, to headteachers, to school children, have strikingly universal similarities.

How can this information affect how we connect to an audience? It is not what you say, it is what they hear that matters

I have been involved in theatre for over 20 years, directing a range of works from  improvised and devised works with The National Theatre to opera. Leading the eye and ear of the audience are essential elements to supporting the narrative of any piece.Unlike film where you have the luxury of a camera to replace the eye of the audience.. At The Royal Opera House, we talked about how the luxury of music, movement, designs and voice can all lure and engage. And create something uniquely powerful in collaboration. Is there anything more poignant then the juxtaposition of a tentative love scene underscored by music that indicates future tragedy?

But hey – put us in  an entirely different context-say a formal presentation-it all goes out of the window. We allude to some weird, mythical version of what we should aspire to. Often unfortunately dull, dull and duller. Why do we think the power of our rhetoric is enough? That if we bombard the audience with words – visually (in the form of our dense but extraordinarily impressive PowerPoint) and orally (we can’t just shut up cos we have to get it all in there) this will connect with them? On a profoundly emotional, intellectual and empathetic level. It just doesn’t work. The end result is often formulaic and ineffectvie.

Understanding this can unlock how people shape form and content in any presentation, wherever. People still connect or disconnect for the same reasons.

I will do my best in my allocated 15 minutes of fame. Please smile and roll with it if you intend to be there. I heavily suspect Russell would love to write that you are never 15 minutes from something more interesting.

We intend to have a fantastic day. Please say hello if you will be there. I may be a tad nervous.


1st May, 2007