So Andy Murray had to pull out of Wimbledon at the last minute. Even if the hip was healed there was the issue of stamina: having to sustain hours on court with very little match play under his belt. A major factor, no doubt, in the decision. Funnily enough, stamina and energy have been much on my mind recently. I’ve been working with pitch teams, preparing them for some lengthy, five-set presentations.
What becomes apparent in the first full rehearsal are the moments where the energy of the content and of the presenters drops. And you can guarantee that if the speaker has lost momentum, the audience is already in the bar, ordering a Pimms.
Anyone who communicates with other human beings in these technology-rich times faces a tough challenge. We are fighting against our audience’s ever-shrinking concentration span. Research by Microsoft revealed a typical ‘span’ to be around EIGHT SECONDS. Yes, we are morphing into goldfish.
Energy, variety of tone, and content are key to keeping them engaged. That’s why rehearsal is essential. It enables us to experience the choreography of the whole piece, to gauge where the winning shots are, and where we might be serving a double fault.
Once we’ve identified those moments, we can up our game in terms of performance and structure. We might, for example, insert some more interactive content; we might show them an amazing visual; we might use a memorable quotation, or a killer piece of data. At the same time, we can increase our energy level through eye contact, facial expression, gestures, movement, vocal projection, and pace.
Add all that together and we’re more likely to keep our audience in their seats and away from the strawberries and cream tent.