Love him or hate him, Tony Robbins knows how to put on a show. I recently watched, well more like participated in, a 5-day challenge he hosted and found myself fascinated not only by WHAT he said but HOW he said it.
He Executes Really Really Well.
Many of these concepts, we all may know – but probably aren’t DOING as well as he does or with as much confidence. Granted, he has a lot of practice, is a voracious learner and has a machine behind his work. Still there are a lot of things even solopreneurs can all do. As I prepare for my own DC Start-Up week presentation, below or six things I am keeping in mind.
1 Prime the Audience
Each session of the 5-day challenge began with KK, a tiny blond coach, who was as perky as her nickname sounds, setting the group expectations. She was followed by an athletic trainer who went through a 5-minute Tabata designed to amp up the crowd, and get everyone in a peak state. For a 30 minute presentation that may be a bit much. And I know that Tony’s audience is used to him doing “woo-woo” stuff. Still, a mini physical transition – i.e. a few deep breaths, 2 minute power pose, and asking folks to turn off notifications can help your group focus and settle down. As a yogi and yoga teacher, I sometimes shy away from too much weird or “woo-woo” stuff.
TR helped me get over it. If it works it works. He reminded me that I have an obligation to share the “weird” things if they help people. Which brings me to..
2 Don’t be afraid to be weird (it’s not about you!)
So much of the value that Tony brings doesn’t necessarily come from his content or even from him. It comes from the community, the communal energy, and his ability to normalize fringe ideas.
I’ll admit I get nervous teaching the “woo-woo” like traditional yogic principles, mediation and breath work. Partly because a lot of folks resist it and throw shade. What TR helped me appreciate was, that didn’t matter. I don’t have to explain or justify the woo-woo. It works. All I can do it offer what I know. I can’t make people do the work, and that’s not my job.
My job, as a presenter is to hold space for the experience. To present the truth in such a way that folks can absorb it, practice it, reflect on it and ultimately shine. Don’t forget that much of the joy of training is the peer to peer learning and reflection – i.e. has nothing to do with you. Provide a space and encourage folks to connect, reflect, and shine – either in the event or using social media. It’s also a opportunity for presenters to listen and learn. To take in folks’ stories and use it to improve and tailor my own offering.
3 Engaged and Entertain
Tony & team knows how to engage people and make it a mind body experience. Throughout his seminars he offers easy fill in the _______. What? What was that?
Yeah that’s right. Fill in the BLANKS!
He creates easy opportunities, simple call-and-responses for folks to shout out and stay engaged! He also encourage note taking. It works! It changes the presentation from a one-way monologue to a conversation.
To do this we can use the chat for interactive quizzes, or we can use more formal polls or break-out features so that participants can chat with each other.
4 Work with People’s Default, Not Against It.
Tony unapologetic points out annoying and obvious features of human psychology. Like how people are attracted first by appearance and then by substance. It may be annoying, but it’s still true. Another truism is that, “people like people who are like them, or who they want to be like” and that most people learn from emotion not from their reason.
There is a part of me trained by Ivy-League esoteric nerds that wants to resist the need to perform. I’m an introvert for Fs sake, I have little desire to be popular. There may also be some satisfaction, and a sense of superiority, in being obtuse and hard to understand.
That’s pure snobbery and elitist nonsense masking an introverted default that border on self-absorption. Two of my core values is truth and accessibility. While I don’t have a desire to be popular, I am motivated to broadly share truth and increase access to knowledge. If I want to share knowledge I have to meet people where they are, at that means I must be an entertainer and to speak at their level.
I often think about how, Einstein is attributed with saying, if you can’t explain it to a five year old, you don’t really understand it. I’ve learned I have to reframe and accept that is I want to have an impact presenting, my job is to engage and entertain.
Also going back to rule #2, it’s not about me.
5 Don’t Forget to Tell Stories!
I know you already know that stories are memorable and engaging. And yes I get that you may feel like a broken record and you may be repeating yourself. I’ve heard Tony’s origin story half a dozen times – and still has an impact. We can always practice and refine your stories. Stories get people’s attention. Spend a couple minutes telling people how you or your clients learned and/or earned the secrets you are about to share.
When you can say, “This took me 5 years of trial and error to figure out.” or “I learned this first hand from from the hands of a 100-year mystic after crawling on my hands and knees for a mile…” or “I nearly lost a arm, searching for the perfect tool to…”
Skipping those 5 years, and/or avoiding pitfalls is VALUABLE. People will gladly give you their attention for information to avoid those costs or risks. Thomas Edison used to say that every failure told him what NOT to do. Knowing what NOT to do is almost as valuable as what you should do.
6 Serve Your Audience
Yes everyone says this and knows this but are we executing on it?
Many of us write a bajillion articles about stuff that interests us. That’s a place to start if our audience likes what we like. That said there is a lot of content out there and it’s not always clear it’s landing.
A better question may be are, are you having an impact? Is it reaching people? Is it serving an immediate need? Are they taking action on it? In addition to knowledge, you can share template, data sets, and even apps that will make other people’s lives easier.
In addition to Tony Robbins. A few other folks who over deliver on value include: Marie Forleo, Brené Brown, Seth Godin, my two current Notion crushes – Khe Hy and August Bradley and Kirstin Sherry, a career coach and story teller.
Remember you don’t just have to only serve your potential clients, you can also share this with your entire eco-system. Case in point, I hope this article helps other presenters and future presenters. I don’t know if it’ll come back to me – but adding a bit of good stuff into the universe rarely hurts.
As we said, people like people who are like them and who the want to be like. Who doesn’t aspire to be helpful.
I realize those especially last two ideas are really, really obvious. However, it’s often worth slowing down and reviewing these basics. I’m a big fan of templates and checklists. Feel free to message me if you want the link to a Notion presentation checklist.