Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Learning from Street Performers

Right outside Fanueil Hall in Boston was this set of street performers.

While I watched them, it did not immediately strike me, but as usual, I got the thought a little later.

A street performance is really, like a training. Except that, you and I, walking on the street have no obligation, much less motivation, to attend and cannot be ‘pushed’ to attend the performance. So, they have to do much more to attract and retain an audience – which for a trainer is easier, since his audience is atleast in the room. And the techniques these guys used were so simple, so good…

First, as they were about to start their performance, they get the audience to come closer – near the markers they have set up. They do this very respectfully, though at this point, many people are not even sure if they want to see the performance. They realize that.

And while doing this, one of them begins his spiel. He tells the audience (mostly whites) that they have nothing to fear from them (blacks). And they wont hurt them – atleast they cannot hurt all of them at the same time. That breaks barriers instantly. And then he asks the audience to clap and not stand with folded hands – and points to a statue – that is standing in precisely that position – again peals of laughter. Then he asks them to put their hands up – and then tells them, no it is not a robbery.

Each of these statements just endears them to the audience – sentence by sentence. And then he asks them to clap, loudly, continuously and clap if they like something or do not like something. Wry humour at its best. And he signs off by saying, don’t let us down. And that really makes you want to cheer for them.

Lovely audience connect. Now he has established the connect with the audience, got their attention and committed to their cheering his performance. And then their breathtaking routine begins…And by now, you must have realized that when the tip jar is finally circulated, they will get it filled each and every time…

Imagine us delivering training like this. Establishing a rapport. Making the audience comfortable. Delivering a breathtaking training. And getting great feedback!

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