The Male Voice Choir and your Group Presentations
Recently I had a most unusual request from a friend who is in a male voice choir. As someone who was kicked out of the school choir (yes, it is true!) I was wondering how he thought I could help him.
He explained that while he believed the choir were good at singing, he just felt that they were lacking a bit of polish. This resonated with me – quite a few of my clients who are proficient at speaking, come to me because they feel they too can do with a bit of “polishing”.
I went to one of the choir’s performances and he was absolutely correct – their singing was really beautiful but a few small things detracted from their performance.
It was interesting how many of these small things also relate to group presentations.
Shirts, ties and being different!
All 10 of them wore trousers, shirts, ties and waistcoats. This made them look a bit different from most male choirs who tend to wear jackets, not waistcoats. If you don’t believe me, Google “male voice choirs” and look at the images. I guarantee you that over 90% will be wearing jackets.
Being different in your dress code as a group is good! Being different within that dress code … not so good.
One small drawback was tiny inconsistencies in their collars and ties. Some had a Windsor knot and others a normal single knot. Some seemed to have a button open at the top, while others did not. Small things but just a slight detraction from an otherwise perfect outfit.
So, how about you – when you stand up for group presentations? Does your dress code make you look ‘different’, for the right reasons? If in doubt, the best advice is to slightly over-dress rather than under-dress.
If you are presenting as a team there should be some element of consistency.
When the group came up for their set, they walked up neatly in pairs but when it was over they came down in a haphazard manner. Again, not a hanging offence, but it just made them look that little bit less professional.
When you are speaking, especially if at a conference or in a non-familiar venue, plan how you will walk up and walk down. Plan also how you will transition from one speaker to the next – both verbally and physically.
Where to look?
This was the biggest gig the group had done to date so eye contact was at a different level than normal. Some of the singers were looking at the audience and others were looking at each other or to the piano player.
If you are standing up front, as a team, for a group presentation, decide what works best for you. Some people like to stand side-on to the audience and watch their fellow speaker. Others prefer to stand at a 45° angle and get used to facing the audience. Whatever way you are looking be sure that you have facial gestures that are supportive of your speaker.
Where to put the hands?
Funny, we never worry about what to do with our hands – until we stand up in front of a group! There was a wide variety of hand configurations. Some out front, some at the side, some round the back and some moving in time to the music! When waiting to speak try not to fidget, maybe keep the hands in the fig leaf position or maybe behind your back. Again, a little bit of consistency can go a long way.
I know that those wonderful singers enjoy what they do – but they didn’t show it as much as they could have. Especially when walking up, walking down and taking applause it is really appropriate to smile. When they were singing a more sombre song – then it was okay and appropriate to look more serious.
Likewise, with your group presentations, smile at the beginning, the end and anywhere else where appropriate. However, if the presentation is delivering bad news, maybe pack the smiles away for that one!
Presenting does include a certain amount of performing. When presenting as a team, just like a male voice choir performance, think about the things that will add that extra bit of polish so that your performance will shine!
For tips on creating the right first impression whether presenting as part of a group or by yourself, please see my 5 Tips for creating a Fantastic First Impression