Monday, August 13, 2012

Start Together, End Together

When I was twelve years old, my dad taught me how to play music.

One of the first lessons he taught me was, it doesn’t matter how good the song sounds, as long as you start together and end together, you’re still a rockstar.

And whether you’re playing music, pitching a customer, telling a story, professing your love, giving a speech, firing an employee or giving any kind of performance, this approach works for a few reasons.

First, the bookend keeps you safe. By knowing exactly what you’re going to say at the start and finish, you never have to worry about weak openings or flat endings. Most people only remember the first and last words out of your mouth anyway. May as well make them memorable.

Second, the bookend gives you permission. By setting parameters on the performance, you create space for the material to breathe. This creates room for spontaneity, leaves the door open for lightning to strike and allows you to respond to the immediate experience. That way, the audience isn’t just another stop on your route of rote.

Third, the bookend keeps you focused. By owning the frame, you keep yourself within the allotted time. This helps you manage the clock, add material when needed and cut material when necessary. That way, when it’s time to wrap things up, you can move right into your close.

Start together, end together.

Let the middle take care of itself.

That’s how you become a rockstar.