As you seek to improve your own presentation skills, consider the following
Notice Billy Crystal's...
1) Rhythm &
Pacing - how he will move faster or slower in sections. He may use this for
comedic effect, to engage the audience or to command attention and shift tone. Remember to vary your pace.
2) Use of the Pause - how he
pauses for effect -- for humor, for sincerity, to shift to a new section. This is what I call "landing your point." Avoid rushing through your material. Give the audience time to take it in.
3) Variety of Tone - notice the variety
in his speaking tone, which ranges from warmth to humor to respect for nominees.
In other words, he is not speaking in "one color" but instead is engaging the full power of The Prism Effect™. Use the full spectrum of what you have. The audience craves variety. Important note: Keep in mind that tonal shifts must always come from the "inside out." If you force the shift, you will sound inauthentic.
4) Physicality - how he
embraces and welcomes the audience through his physicality - with open arms or with the angle of his upper body. Notice how he adjusts the angle of his upper
body (think of a satellite dish shifting) to connect with the audience in different locations: the people seated far back in the
balcony, those directly down in front, and those watching from home (through the
5) Foot Placement - how he
adjusts the placement of his feet, the balance of his weight. Often new presenters will lean forward into the audience. Though this can communicate passion, it often communicates nerves. Notice how Billy is grounded - emotionally and physically.
6) Range of Humor - rather than be word-based only (with a verbal "set up and punch"),
Billy is also a master of physical comedy, character work, impersonations, singing, and
performing small bits. Wouldn't it be fun for you to incorporate a small piece of performance humor at your
7) Facial Expressions and Non-Verbal Reactions - how he adds these after a joke (or
sometimes even between lines) to enhance the humor. Observe how he might shrug his shoulders or raise his eyebrows to add Non-Verbal Punctuation™ to a joke.
8) Improvisation, Riffs and Off-the-Cuff Humor - which he deftly adds and then may even refer back to later for
comedic effect (what is known in comedy as a "callback"). When speakers get committed to a word-for-word script, they lose any opportunity for spontaneous humor. Avoid this mistake. Stay loose.
9) Use of Microphone - how he
"trusts the microphone" to do its job so that he is never shouting, even though
he is speaking to thousands of people in the Kodak Theatre (and millions more
via satellite / television). The mark of an amateur is someone who projects even when they have a mic. The mic is there for a reason. Let it do its job.
10) Intimacy with a Large Crowd - how he
acknowledges specific audience members seated in front which gives the vast
space a far more intimate feel. Many politicians will do this as well. Consider a brief nod of acknowledgement to a couple of people in your audience...
11) Smiling - how he smiles
as he talks, a technique often used to raise spirits and the level of enjoyment for the audience.
12) Sense of being at ease, in control, having a good time - Notice his overall enjoyment
of the experience and his sense of being at ease. Despite the enormous
pressure, Billy has a way of exuding this sense of comfort and Relaxed Command™
which is what your audiences want from you as well.
BONUS TIP: As you notice all these techniques, rather than simply be a passive observer, do your best to also visualize yourself engaging these skills. Psychically place yourself on a stage and in the moment of presenting, for this alone will take you much farther down the path of advancing your own skills. Be the viewer, be the student, and be the host--all at once.
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