2.6 Key ideas about embracing the liveness

  • Make as much of your content as possible appear that it is improvised using the illusion of spontaneity.  Audiences crave live, responsive experiences. But, they also care about being satisfied by their overall journey through the presentation. The way around this conundrum is to deliver prepared material in such a way that it looks spontaneous.


  • Adopt the rivers and lakes model for your interactive presentations. Your routines are made up of tightly scripted paths (“rivers”), where the audience have little influence, and looser, interactive sections where they appear to have more control (“lakes”). These responsive phases are themselves made up of subroutines — smaller, self-contained units which are each carefully crafted.


  • Each of your lines or actions falls into one of four levels of spontaneity, along the spontaneity spectrum. The levels are — fixed content (delivered in more-or-less the same way each time); engineered content (prepared elements which look as if they have been prompted by the audience or the environment, but which you elicit); recalled content (crafted responses to the various unexpected incidents that recur in live presentations); and improvised content (truly spontaneous replies, made in the moment).


  • Fixed, engineered and recalled content uses a form of interactive scripting, so you can communicate in the most concise, clear and compelling way in every delivery.


  • Your delivery will be dominated by fixed and engineered content, with only sprinklings of recalled and improvised content when the circumstances allow. All of these types of content should be blended together so naturally that the audience can’t see the joins.


  • Every delivery should have the freshness of the first performance. Even though much of our presentations are necessarily formed of fixed content, we need to create the illusion of the first time for the sake of our audience.


  • Backleading is where you secretly guide the audience towards a particular call out or action, so that you can deploy a planned subroutine in response. But, done skilfully, it will feel to the audience as if they are in control.


  • Much of your engineered content comes from figuring out how to make your happy accidents happen on demand.  A happy accident is any incident in which an unexpected event leads to a recovery that is so strong, the routine becomes more impactful with the accident included.


  • Incorporation is instantly adapting an engineered or recalled bit in small ways so that it feels grounded in what is happening onstage and in the audience at that moment.


  • Prepare a library of recalled content which you can use in response to the most common unexpected incidents. You can then plan how to take advantage of these engaging situations when they arise.


  • Improvisation is about being fully present so you can react spontaneously and honestly to whatever happens around you. It is a performance muscle that requires constant practice.


  • Re-incorporation, or call backs, are where you refer back to an earlier line or situation in the presentation. These references can be planned or spontaneous. Call backs help to bond an audience by creating a shared experience and they find them amusing and satisfying.


  • Audiences never worry about occasional mistakes as much as you. They will only get uncomfortable when you visibly get uncomfortable. Rather than hiding them, some mistakes are moments of peak attention to be exploited — your response to a problem reveals the version of you they will trust the most.


Hook Your Audience (volume 1) Copyright © 2021 by HOOK training limited. All Rights Reserved.

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