Welcome Back! Last post I told you the story about pulling off a night maneuver to acquire a silent sales force while at Zipcar. I have a slew of more Zipcar stories and will get back to them soon but with conference season coming I want to share a few stories that revolve around making a boring keynote presentation something that will get people to carry you out of the room on their shoulders singing “for he’s a jolly good fellow”
I call this weeks entry “Did I ever tell you about the time…Harlem Globetrotters edition”
I get to speak at a lot of conferences and I think the reason is that I am handsome and smart but putting the obvious aside for a moment I think the main reason I get asked so often is that I make every talk an experience and I do this because most conference speakers are boring and I am not like most conference speakers.
Before I get to my examples that will impress you greatly its worth it to mention that while I purposely try to sabotage my own talks I never mess with the actual content. There is a great line in the TV show Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip that goes “Content may be king but Distribution pays Content’s Mortgage”. I think about the content and how its delivered so if you hire me to speak the audience gets a great talk with lots of learning and inspiration but what they also get is something they will tell their friends about because chances are its something they don’t see everyday.
Some of the stunts I have pulled range from safe to ridiculous.
A few years ago I hired a high school basketball team to come onstage with me half way through my talk wearing Harlem Globetrotters shirts and do the Globetrotter weave with me in the middle.
I’ve hired a man to heckle me and engage in a fight during a talk and while this would be funny enough on its own the fight was actually scripted and we were screaming at each other with the lessons of the talk so if you paid attention you still would learn things in and we entertained.
I hired a black woman to sit in chair on stage. Why is this a stunt? Well I was speaking at a conference that got criticized that there were no women or people of colour speaking at the conference so I fixed that and got a lot of people talking because I never referenced the woman on stage but half way through people figured out the stunt and it was applauded. I know this wasn’t a solution to the actual situation but it was a statement.
I have hired a woman (do you see a theme here) to accuse me of fathering her baby and asking for a paternity test during the Q&A portion of my talk. Why? Because it is funny.
I usually start my talks with a personal story and every now and then it is a tale of molestation.
I have had woman throw panties on stage during talks but this wasn’t pre-arranged.
More than once I have gotten a phone call during a talk and occasionally I will stop my talk to chat for a few minutes…and once during the talk with the heckler I had him call me once he was removed so we could finish our fight.
One of my favorites was the time I had my mom on the screen via Skype during my talk so she can keep telling me I’m smart and doing a good job.
…and of course there was the time I had 5 people planted in the audience to rush the stage and carry me off singing “For he’s a jolly good fellow”.
So why is this stuff important?
Because if people don’t remember your talk then what is the point of doing it?
Same thing goes for your companies marketing…so what have you done lately that was memorable?