The Who and the Why

who-air-guitar As a teen in Calgary, Canada, I fell in love with one of the greatest British rock groups of all time: The Who. And as a teen with energy to burn, I cranked the stereo in my bedroom and leapt, danced, and screamed to their music. Chicago Bulls The Who filled concert halls and stadiums, connecting with audiences around the world; I connected with nobody. Eventually I formed a rock group, Charles Atlas and the Real Men, which played in empty bars to indifferent audiences. Normal. I brought my bedroom experience to the stage and leapt about and screamed, using only one color of the rainbow, orange, which you will learn is the color of energy. One color does not make a rainbow and my rock career died before it started. Ironically, I have been performing for over 25 years as an English teacher for my students, still relying on the color orange – energy – and what remains of my youthful craziness to connect with my students. When I discovered Toastmasters six years ago, I started public speaking to new audiences, but my method stayed largely the same. One color of the rainbow. Some Toastmasters did like my zany energy and suggested I do standup comedy. I performed for new audiences in a standup comedy environment, but it felt oddly familiar! In fact this experience reminded me of playing to indifferent audiences 25 years earlier during my brief career as a rock bassist. After three years of stand-up comedy performances, the host, Sebastian Marx told me one evening that I would improve by thinking about my audience more. A dim lightbulb went on in my excessively slow mind. light-bulb-931979_960_720 I looked at videos of my performances and realized I was still performing like when I was listening to The Who in my bedroom. I had only myself to blame for not connecting fully with my audience. I began to think about all the speaking skills I had learnt from teaching, Toastmasters, performing live in standup comedy clubs, from workshops on clowning, improvisation, acting, writing, confernces like FunnyBiz SF, and working with world class coaches and performers from around the world and I realized that focusing on skills is not enough and largely overrated. The performers we all admire do something more… they link their skills naturally into a colorful connection which marvels audiences and provokes rapture, awe, curiosity, respect, and smiles. These moments of sublime spiritual connection are what I call the rainbow. These connections are among our highest goals as humans and these connections are available to anyone on our planet. And like rainbows, they appear anytime, anywhere, naturally. So if you already an accomplished speaker who wishes to shift your thinking or someone, like me, attracted by the stage and wishing to get out of your bedroom and create colorful connections with an audience as a speaker, actor, performer, Toastmaster, standup comedian, motivational coach, business coach, or budding rock star, you are WHO I am writing this blog for. My hope is you don’t wait as long as me to see your full potential as a rainbow speaker who can connect colorfully with audiences everytime, everywhere. Today, I seek the rainbow as a speaker and performer. I also seek the rainbow as a member of the audience who wants to learn everything I can know about creating colorful connections with my audience. That is the WHY of this blog: To share what I know and to learn more.

8 thoughts on “The Who and the Why

  1. I love the metaphor of a rainbow to describe a speech. It made me realise I need to work on varying the style and content of my talks. (Your stories of using so much orange also reminded me of a great quote by Craig Valentine: “When you’re always dynamic, you’re no longer dynamic.”)

    My own blog uses a similar concept to yours: I have a 3-colour icon, which represents the need to balance blue (info), red (emotion) and green (action). Though, ironically, I’ve still not written a post to explain the icon, after 5 years of blogging!

    Still, as a member of Toastmasters, you might be interested in this evaluation of a video they published. (Comments are always welcome on any of my posts.)

    Anyway, great to see another public-speaking blogger. Keep up the good work!

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