Awesome Conferences

All the songs we play are great

My high school had a radio station.  Volunteering there taught me lot about planning, timing, music, and electronics.  Plus, we had a CP/M machine that was used to store our inventory of albums and that gave me an excuse to spend hours with a real live computer.

One of the pieces of equipment they had was a machine that recorded the station any time the microphone was on.  Firstly, this kept students from saying "bad words" on the air, as it provided evidence.  More importantly it was a training device.  After a show we could listen to the tape to understand what we sounded like and make improvements.

My first tape sounded something like this:
  • That was a really great song.  Now here's ____ with ____.  It's a really great song.
  • click
  • That was a really great song.  Now here's ____ with ____.  It's a really great song.
  • click
  • That was a really great song.  Now here's ____ with ____.  It's a really great song.
  • click
  • That was a really great song.  Now here's ____ with ____.  It's a really great song.
  • click
You see, dear readers, it seems that I felt it was really important for you to know that the music I was playing was, and I clearly meant this in a heart-felt way, "great."

It was laughable how how repetitive I was. My adviser explained two things:
  1. We only play great music on this radio station. Therefore, you don't have to tell the audience it is a great song.  In fact, one would say that the fact that we played it means it is a great song. We're a great station; we define greatness.
  2. Every new DJ makes the same mistake.
These points were learned and relearned by every student that joined the DJ staff.

When introducing a song you don't need to say something is great. It is more powerful to talk about the song's qualities and let the listener realize that it is great. For example one might say that it is "their newest release", that it was "requested by a caller", or that "I've been waiting to play this all week".  All of those things say volumes more about the song than it is "great".

This holds true for anything we introduce: Introducing a friend to another, introducing information we're about to give to co-workers (formally or informally), introducing new software to users [Ever see an IT person spend 15 minutes telling users the new software is fantastic, wonderful, great, amazing, and awesome but forgetting to say what the software does?  I have!], and especially when introducing speakers at a conference.

I was reminded of this concept because yesterday I saw someone making this same mistake. At a day-long mini-conference the chair introduced every single speaker as "awesome" or "incredibly awesome."  That's how the audience was introduced to the person that came to say a few words as a representative of the event's co-sponsor.  That's how the audience was introduced to the world-famous, award-winning, well-published, keynote speaker who had traveled 200 miles to be there.  The audience did know that the keynote speaker was particularly important because her introduction included the word "awesome" at least six times. The representative of the co-sponsor was only called "awesome" once.

It was painful to watch these introductions.  I wanted to grab the microphone and offer to do the introductions myself.  I would have stated 2-3 biographical details from their bio (which were written in the program) and let those points speak for themselves.

And my introductions would have been... well... awesome.

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in Personal Growth

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