What Rock & Roll Hall of Famers can teach us about presenting

I watched the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony this weekend, primarily because of my love of Hall & Oates. (Yes, I have the boxed set.)

These are people who know how to put on a show, a group the business community could learn a lot from when it comes to giving presentations.

Here are my takeaways from the event for those of us used to presenting in a conference room instead of a stadium:

Be personal: Chris Martin of Coldplay introduced Peter Gabriel. While I’m not a Coldplay fan, I was won-over by the low-key charm and sincerity of Chris Martin. He told a personal story about buying a Peter Gabriel tape on a high school field trip to Paris, getting lost, and spending the day walking around the city captivated by the music. The anecdote created a real connection between the two men and made it more than just a stock intro from another rock star.

Be passionate: The most memorable intro speech was from guitarist Tom Morello on behalf of KISS. I did not know who Tom Morello was when he stepped out on stage, but he was the best speaker of the event. He made a passionate argument about why KISS should be in the Hall of Fame based on his three criteria: impact, influence and awesomeness. His remarks were forceful, rhythmic, poetic and motivating. His authentic love for the band could have converted anyone into a KISS fan.

Be local: Philadelphia native Questlove introduced Hall & Oates who famously hail from the City of Brotherly Love. During his acceptance speech, Daryl Hall called out the Hall of Fame for not honoring any other legendary local artists like Chubby Checker, Todd Rundgren, The Stylistics, Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes. Both Questlove and H&O painted an evocative picture of the musical influences of their often-overlooked city. After careers that took them around the world, these artists brought it back home to their roots (or Roots).

20140410-bruce1-x600-1397194553Be real: Bruce Springsteen spoke from the heart about his E Street Band members who have been with him for so long. With great affection, he talked about their individual contributions, his feelings for each of them, his regret that Clarence Clemmons was not there and his relationship with his long-time bandmate/wife. He didn’t sugar coat, talking about the trials and tribulations they shared together, which made it all the better.

Be grateful: Dave Grohl of Nirvana thanked the Nirvana drummers who came before him and the manager and accountant he has been with for 25 years. While one doesn’t readily associate rock stars with professional services, it gave a glimpse into the business relationships needed to support their careers. It made Dave Grohl seem thoughtful as he expressed his gratitude to the people who have helped him along the way.

Be unexpected: This worked two ways – Nirvana surprised the audience for having, as Krist Novoselic said, several “ladies” join them in their performance; and the ladies themselves surprised with their own take on Nirvana’s music, especially Joan Jett who could probably out-guitar-play most of the men in the Hall of Fame.

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