Are You the ‘Singer’, the ‘Song’ or the ‘CD’?

What makes you want to listen to music? The singer and their unique passion? The song and it’s compelling melody or lyrics? Could it be the memories of experiences and emotions associated to the song?

It’s probably any one, or all, of these depending on each unique situation.

Years ago when I was coaching a well known recording artist, a discussion broke out about watching football games. One of the musicians said he only watched a match on TV if it was live. He never watched highlights shows (like BBC’s Match of The Day), because the game was already over and he knew the result. The excitement and anticipation of what might happen is the enjoyable part for him. Immediately someone disagreed and said they much preferred to watch the highlights show to see the goals, the controversial decisions, the post match interviews and also the comments of the experts in the studio. The main points of the 90 minute game were now available in less than 15 / 20 mins. Both preferences are justified depending on the context, but each require different structures, preparation and delivery.

When structuring your message it’s a useful exercise to ask yourself why are they listening? Is it the information, your opinion about the information, or is it because they want a solution for a problem they have? Knowing the answer will save you a lot of time and help you structure your message for maximum impact.

Because the focus is on them, many speakers making presentations or speeches mistakenly believe that people are primarily there to listen to them. It’s rarely the case – unless of course you are a superstar celebrity and just being in your presence is reward enough! Whether as a student, a colleague, a client, a course attendee or an audience member, your listener will remain engaged because you have an insight that will make them feel better about themselves. You might be the ‘Singer’ and they love the sound of your voice, but they are probably remaining there because the ‘Song’ moves them. And if you move them in several ways, they will probably want the ‘CD’ as a reminder of the wonderful things you have said.

The ‘Singer’ is the speaker and the delivery; the ‘Song’ is the information and its structure; and the ‘CD’ is an reminder ‘carry-out’ of the memorable moments. Using this analogy, the importance of all three becomes very important. Our job as communicators is to be aware, to recognise and to respond to the signals that our audiences (clients, colleagues, students…etc) give us. If they want the ‘Singer’ reveal a personal insight. If they want the ‘Song’ give them meaningful words delivered with active and vibrant energy; and if they want the ‘CD’ make sure you present easy to remember nuggets that they will remember and refer to often. If you can give them all three, your messages will always be memorable!

© Poll Moussoulides

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