"Applause" - performed by Bonnie Franklin, written by Lee Adams, and from the Broadway show Applause
Don't you just love hearing thunderous applause? Whether you're a speaker, sales professional, a team leader or even a one-year old taking your first steps, applause is such a powerful and energizing motivator. And now Applause! is available as a thought-provoking newsletter from Gary Rifkin of Encore! Encore! Knowing that music can be a powerful catalyst for learning, each two or three paragraph edition will introduce a line from a song as a trigger for the bi-weekly message. You'll see ideas for improving your presentation skills as well as ways to stay motivated and energized, no matter what your current challenges. I can hear the applause already!
"It's Still Rock and Roll To Me“ written and performed by Billy Joel
I don't know about you, but I find myself having a hard time keeping up with the newest trends. By the time I've discovered that we're now supposed to wear our shirts out, they'll be tucking them in again! But never fear. The most important thing is not that you be in with the crowd, but that you be yourself. Energized people know that being authentic keeps you motivated. Wear your shirt tucked in or out with pride - whichever way you find most comfortable!
"Unforgettable" performed by Nat King Cole; written by Irving Gordon
Whether you are presenting to one or one thousand, your goal should be to become unforgettable. I had a teacher once who was brilliant, but we were bored! Yes, he was forgettable, but in a very unforgettable way. You've got to make your delivery so interesting, passionate and genuine that your audience connects to your content. Start with an engaging story or quote. End with a powerful call to action. Use humor where appropriate. Whatever you do, make sure that they remember you for how brilliant you are and not how boring!!!
"A Piece of Sky" performed by Barbara Streisand; written by Alan and Marilyn Bergman; from the movie Yentl
Barbra Streisand, in the powerful final scene from Yentl reminds us that there's always more. It reminds me of something my parents used to tell me as I was growing up. "Always do your absolute best; know that you can do even more. And we'll always be proud of you, no matter what." Great wisdom as you attempt new skills and begin to soar!
"Hakuna Matata" performed by Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella; written by Tim Rice; from the movie The Lion King
I think Timon and Pumbaa had it right in The Lion King. Obviously, we can't live all of our days with their care-free philosophy. But wouldn't it be nice to try? Here's to some Hakuna Matata!
"Take a Chance On Me" performed by ABBA; written by Benny Anderson and Bjorn Ulvaeus.
Any time you're learning a new skill, you have to accept the fact that you won't get it right away. That's okay! You'll never get good if you don't take a few chances and mess up a couple of times. So, go ahead, take a chance!
"Defying Gravity" from the Broadway show Wicked, performed by Idina Menzel; written by Stephen Schwartz.
In the Broadway sensation Wicked, Elphaba discovers her ability to fly in the powerful song, "Defying Gravity." As she soars over the stage singing these powerful words, I am reminded of a quote from one of my favorite authors, Richard Bach, in his book Illusions. He says, "Argue your limitations and they're yours." Is it possible that you could be tremendously more successful (and ultimately happier) if you simply stopped believing in your own limitations? Just something to think about as you listen to Idina Menzel singing this inspiring music.
"Beautiful Day" performed by U2; written by Bono
My personal trainer, David, is a master at not only helping me stay (somewhat) in shape, but also at clearing my head. There is something about spending an hour with an expert and coach that can help you to put things into perspective - as this Grammy winning song has done for so many of U2's fans.
Who is your David? Who's teaching you to let go of some of the material concerns of your life? What are you doing to make sure that you (and those around you) have a truly "beautiful day"?
"Everybody Knows" performed by the Dixie Chicks; written by Emily Robison, Martie Maguire, Natalie Maines and Gary Louris
Whether presenting to one or one thousand, the most critical component of a successful speech is authenticity. You'll quickly discover that those butterflies in your stomach go away the more you relax and simply be yourself. Be passionate about your topic and let the audience see you. As they get to know you, they'll be excited to learn more about you and about the things you've decided to share with them.
One way to step out is to not hide. Don't stand behind a lectern or sit behind a table. Stand up. Connect to your audience. Be yourself.
You'll be glad you did. And so will they!
"59th Street Bridge Song" performed by Simon & Garfunkel; written by Paul Simon
In your busy day-to-day world, how often do you just slow down and let the morning last? You'll be surprised what a few hours, a whole morning, or even a couple of days of "feelin' groovy" will do for your productivity. And your relationships.
As Simon & Garfunkel say in one of their happiest of melodies, "Let the morning time drop all its petals on me. Life, I love you. All is groovy!"
"Breakaway" performed by Kelly Clarkson; written by Matthew Gerrard, Avril Lavigne, and Bridget Benenate
If you're a fan of American Idol, you know that the first winner, Kelly Clarkson, keeps pushing herself to do better and better. Her music sales and awards are proof that she's spread her wings!
If you truly want to be an awesome presenter, you can never rest on your laurels. You may have given a great speech last week but it's got to be even better the next time. Should you set expectations high? You bet. Then meet them. And exceed them. Every time. (And even Simon Cowell will be applauding!)
"I Have Confidence" â€“ from the movie The Sound of Music; written by Richard Rodgers; famously performed by Julie Andrews; recently performed by Ivy Rhyne in the Monhagen Middle School production.
One of the things I often ask my audience members is: Which is more important, competence or confidence? Yes, you've got to be good. But more importantly, you've got to KNOW that you're good! As any good leader can attest, if you've got the confidence, the competence will follow.
As I sat this past weekend watching my (extremely talented) nephew Jack become Captain Von Trapp in his school production of The Sound of Music, this unheralded song from the musical brought my theory back into focus. Whether you're getting ready to give a big speech, auditioning for a show, up to bat before a crowd of fans, or going in for a big interview, if you don't believe you can do it, I can guarantee that nobody else will believe it either.
Maria closes the song with the pep talk she needs to prepare for the unknown events that she is about to experience. I have confidence in confidence alone, besides which you see I have confidence in me!
There's nothing better than a good story. Whether speaking to a large group, or visiting with a few friends, people stay engaged and interested when the story is engaging and interesting! It doesn't have to be exact to have impact. As Jimmy Buffett will tell you, as long as "the life and the telling" are both real, the story will work.
So, what's your story?
"Your Song" performed by Elton John; written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin
A good songwriter knows that although the song needs to reach the masses, it's designed to feel like it's only meant for one person. It's the same with a great speech. When you are presenting, each individual in that group needs to believe you are speaking directly to him or her. By using good eye contact and thinking of each speech as a simple one-on-one conversation, you will not only help to calm your nerves, but you'll have everyone believing that you have literally written your speech just for them!
"Castles Made of Sand" written and performed by Jimi Hendrix
Fans of Jimi Hendrix will tell you that he's remembered for his ground-breaking musicianship. But they'll also tell you that he was a master craftsman of enduring lyrics. In one of his most beloved songs, Hendrix is concerned with the way life sometimes conspires to ruin the best-laid plans. He teaches us that if you build something as precious as a castle with something as powerfully fragile as sand, you can bet it will come crashing down.
This is so very true of relationships. They need to be built with a solid foundation. They need to be strengthened and nurtured constantly. And they need to be cherished so that they cannot possibly slip into the sea. In the final verse of this song, Hendrix offers a ray of hope. Each relationship has the power to offer this same gift. Make sure to take advantage of it.
"Everybody Says Don't" from the Broadway Musical Anyone Can Whistle; written by Stephen Sondheim
I've always believed that with risk comes reward. Often, the reward is clear cut - a triumphant project, a lucrative windfall, an exciting relationship. Sometimes the reward is less obvious, but still powerful. In fact, it's often from the failed risks that you discover the greatest miracles of all - the layoff that yielded the outstanding new business venture, the rejection that resulted in a perfect union with someone unexpected, the lost election that crystallized your perspective.
True miracles are the ones that deepen your understanding of yourself and the world around you. Always choose to learn from every risk, every choice, every success and every failure. And remember that the best way to create miracles is not to wait for them to happen but to take risks and make them happen.
"If I Were Brave" written by Jana Stanfield and Jimmy Scott; performed by Jana Stanfield
Even the most expert speakers get stage fright! The fear is normal, natural, and actually, quite healthy. It's only when you let the fear keep you from being your authentic self that it becomes a problem. So how do you make sure that the fear is managed? For me, the answer has often been music.
About eight years ago, I met an amazing woman through my involvement with the National Speakers Association. Jana Stanfield writes some of the most inspiring lyrics and music that I've ever heard. "If I Were Brave" is one of those songs that you should have singing in your head before every presentation. She opens the song with the line, What would I do if I knew that I could not fail? What a great way to build your confidence!
I highly recommend that you explore Jana's music or any other music that awakens your courage. Oh, you'll still experience some fear. But you'll also know how to transform that fear into bravery.
This Shaker hymn, made famous by Aaron Copland, has been used as a backdrop to some of the grandest events of our day, including in a ballet by Martha Graham, on the CBS News, on Bill Clinton's election night, and during the Sugar Bowl - performed by the West Virginia Mountaineer Marching Band. How interesting that its core message is that true delight comes from simplicity.
This haunting melody has been recorded and arranged by many brilliant musicians. Gifted composer Mark Hayes added a lovely verse which includes the line, "'Tis a gift to be joyful, 'tis a gift just to sing...for music is the greatest gift of all."This is a message I've lived for the past 13 years as a member of the Turtle Creek Chorale. It's a message I was reminded of this past month as two genius musicians have left my beloved choir. Antoine Spencer, the Masterful Chorale Accompanist, consistently reminds me that we must forever use our gifts. Dr. Tim Seelig, Artistic Director Extraordinaire, inspires me to share my gifts so that I can help people find themselves in the place just right."
How are you simplifying your life? What is your simple gift? How are you sharing it with the world?
"Born To Be Wild" performed by Steppenwolf; written by Mars Bonfire
When I was a kid, my cousin Jay had a motorcycle. Of course my brother Joe thought it was the coolest thing. I, on the other hand, was a bit more of a coward. Jay offered to give us each a ride. My mom did not think this was a good idea, but if my older brother was going to ride, so was I. Well, that was around 35 years ago and it was the last time I was ever on a motorcycle.
I guess I wasn't "born to be wild" - or was I? There are a whole lot of ways to look for adventure. I believe you have to find adventure in whatever you do. When my friend Chris is hanging around with her grandsons Quinn and Elroy, it's an adventure. When my friend Mimi goes on a bird watch, it's an adventure. When my friend Eric watches the final seconds of on of his eBay sales, it's an adventure.
Enjoy everything that comes your way. The adventure is not in the activity - it's in your outlook. If you choose to look at things as an adventure, then they will most certainly be one. Go wild!
"Where You Lead" performed by Carole King; written by Carole King and Toni Stern
Have you ever seen a hypnotist in a performance? You know the ones - they bring a few folks up from the audience and put them under a spell. Then, no matter what they are told to do, the hapless volunteers follow every suggestion.
A great presenter is like a hypnotist. If you can truly mesmerize your audience, you've got a lot of power. Get good - really good. You'll have them following your lead in no time at all!
"Stand By Me" - performed by Ben E. King; written by Ben E. King, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller
Do you have people in your life that would be there for you under any circumstances? If ever there was a love song for platonic friends, this is it. No matter how rough things may get, these are the folks you turn to for support, a good laugh, encouragement, and probably the most important of all traits - unconditional love.
Perhaps even more significant is the other side of the question. Whom is it that you would stand by, no matter what? As you identify these friends, think of ways to show them support, laughter, encouragement and unconditional love. You might just send them a copy of this powerful Ben E. King song.
"Whatever Happened to the Heroes" performed by Joss Stone in the movie Fantastic Four; written by Pink, Billy Mann, and Christopher Rojas
Have you noticed how prevalent superheroes are these days? There are popular comic books, hit television shows, countless movies, and inspiring songs. There is clearly a demand for these fearless women and men.
When you are giving a speech, look for opportunities to tell hero stories. These can be about someone you know (Grandma Sarah), someone famous (Joe Paterno), someone historical (Harriet Tubman), someone fictional (Harry Potter), or someone in the audience. Whomever you choose, make sure that you show your passion for this individual in the way you tell their story. If you do it right, it won't matter who your story is about. Everyone has their own version of Grandma Sarah or Joe Paterno.
And soon, someone will be telling a hero story about you!
"Twist and Shout" - performed by the Isley Brothers; written by Bert Russell and Phil Medley
If you've ever been to any kind of party with a DJ, you've most definitely heard this song. And it's likely that you've not only heard it but hopped onto the dance floor during it. There is something about the melody and rhythm of "Twist and Shout" that just gets everyone pumped up.
Why not do a little twisting and shouting even when there's no party? Let loose! Have some fun. Or, just watch the outlandish parade scene from Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
"Keep Breathing" - by Ingrid Michaelson; featured on the hit TV show "Grey's Anatomy"
Thanksgiving can be a joyous time. But it can also be a difficult time of reflection if you've got someone serving overseas, or have lost someone that you love. The most important thing to do is keep breathing. With each breath, you get a little more strength to face the world. And then, in time, you can continue your journey to change the world.
"Respect" - performed by Aretha Franklin; written by Otis Redding
Aretha certainly said it right! No matter what the situation, respect is what you need - to give, to get, to expect. If you're presenting to a group and folks are not acting in the most appropriate way, you find the most respectful way to respond. You'll be surprised at how powerful respect can be as a motivator - in front of an audience and in everything you do.
"We're not alone, we've got the world, you know.
"It's Just Another New Year's Eve" - performed by Barry Manilow; written by Barry Manilow and Marty Panzer
Isn't it great? Every December 31st we get to start over! The cool part is that we start over with more experience, more wisdom and more energy to continue to live our dreams.
This is our last newsletter for 2007. As I hope you've discovered, music and lyrics can be tremendously inspirational. I also hope you've found some significance in the musical messages shared through Applause!.
A wonderful Chanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, or other significant observance to each of you. And sing one Auld Lang Syne for me!
See you next year!
"Anyway" â€“ performed by Martina McBride; written by Martina McBride, Brad Warren, and Brett Warren
What better way to begin the year than with these powerful words of encouragement from one of country music's most beloved singers. As you make resolutions, start projects, attempt new skills and approach any other change, remember that a huge factor in your success will be your ability to continue to believe in yourself.
And if you get discouraged, or things don't go the way you planned, just continue to believe in yourself anyway!
"Freebird" performed by Lynyrd Skynard; written by Allen Collins and Ronnie Van Zant
Whether they thought your speech was just fine or absolutely outstanding, what will they remember later? What will they do with what you've shared? No matter what you're presenting, make sure you leave them with something to do. It could be a change in thinking, a new skill, a powerful action, or a fresh way of looking at the world. In any case, inspire them to act. You'll have made a difference in their lives and the lives of everyone else they encounter.
And for those of you who remember the 70â€™s, the refrain from this song will stay with you past today, I'm sure!
"Just Fine" performed by Mary J. Blige; written Mary J. Blige, Christopher Stewart, Phalon Alexander, and Terius Nash
At the beginning of "Just Fine," Mary J. Blige says, "You know I love music, and every time I hear something hot, it makes me want to move..."
If you're anything like me, you've got some music that gets you in the right mood - no matter how crazy your day has been. Whether you're into rock, country, R&B, rap, easy listening, show tunes, or anything in between, music can so often be an elixir for just about anything. So, get your iPod filled with great music. Burn a CD with your favorites. Go to Barnes & Noble and buy the new Paul McCartney, Reba McIntire, Beyonce©, Kanye West, Michael Buble©, or "Wicked" cast album.
And remember that life is Just Fine!
"Reflection" â€“ performed by Christina Aguilera, from the movie Mulan; written David Zippel
Have you ever noticed that we so rarely see who we truly are? We look in a mirror and find someone who is full of flaws, instead of someone who is uniquely gifted. Why not change the mirror? Find those people in your life who appreciate you for you - not for someone you think you should be. Sure, the flaws are there. But they are not the sum total of the individual. In fact, when you are able to reflect the positive attributes of your true self, you'll be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to attract more people who can see those gifts.
Just as Mulan did in the popular Disney movie, look at your reflection and see the beauty!
"Heartlight" performed by Neil Diamond; written Neil Diamond, Burt Bacharach, and Carol Bayer Sager; from the movie, ET
Too many speakers are afraid to show their heartlight. If you're a subject matter expert, you may believe that you've got to share your wisdom by using detailed, technical content - complete with acronyms, jargon, and concepts that only someone in your industry could ever understand. But the most effective speakers make sure to mix in some emotional stories and ideas. We learn facts and skills with our brain. It's with our heart that we take what we've learned and internalize it.
If you really want to make an impact on your audience, turn on your heartlight!
"Don't Worry, Be Happy" â€“ written and performed by Bobby McFerrin
Anytime I hear this fun song, it puts a smile on my face. Interestingly, that's exactly the point Bobby McFerrin is making. When we choose to dwell on the negative, we are most likely to make things worse. It's the old concept of the self-fulfilling prophecy. Believe something to be true, it's more likely to become true.
Why not believe these simple but profound words. Don't worry. Be happy!
"Dancing in the Street" performed by Martha and the Vandellas; written by Marvin Gaye, William "Mickey" Stevenson, and Ivy Joe Hunter
Are you a good dancer? My friend Dee loves to dance. Is she an outstanding dancer? If you asked her, she'd probably tell you that she's not. But she dances with passion and purpose. If you saw her in her glorious red dress dancing with one of the dapper men on any given night, you'd probably give her pretty high marks. Her grandkids are convinced she should be on Dancing with the Stars.
You see, you don't need to be a great dancer to get great joy out of dancing. You don't have to be a great singer to get great joy out of singing. But you most certainly have to have passion and purpose if you want to get great joy out of life.
And as we all know from the song that has been sung by everyone from Mick Jagger and David Bowie, to the Carpenters, to Van Halen, we should all be dancin' in the street!
"Express Yourself" performed by Madonna; written by Madonna and Stephen Bray
When you're giving a presentation, there is a tendency to think that 100% of the work is done by the speaker. But the better speakers know that they've got to get the audience involved. You can get them to express themselves in a variety of ways. Ask them a question that requires a simple raised hand. Give them an index card and have them write how they might put something you've shared into action. Get them to ask questions.
Anything you do to involve your audience will help them to use your message long after the applause has ended.
So now I've got a request for you. A number of these Applause Newsletters have been inspired by some of my readers. Joan Eisenstodt told me she loved â€œEverybody Says Don't (Issue #16). David Welek suggested U2â€™s â€œBeautiful Day (Issue #8). Roger Adams challenged me to use a Jimi Hendrix song (Issue #15). Do you have a favorite song? Please send the name to me and I'll try to use it one of the future issues.
"Walking on Sunshine“ written by Kimberley Rew; performed by Katrina and the Waves
What's your go crazy song? You know the one I'm talking about that song that whenever you've heard it at a party or a wedding, you just HAD to get out on the dance floor. My friend Eloise is not capable of sitting during Burning Down the House. At my friend Tom's wedding, "YMCA" got everyone on their feet. And who can resist "We Are Family?" Well, my favorite has always been this energetic piece by Katrina and the Waves. The beat is irresistible. The words are simple. And the melody is really great fun.
No matter how cloudy the day, I dare you to turn on your iPod, listen to Walking on Sunshine and not feel great!
â€œGood Riddance (Time of Your Life)- written by Billie Joe Armstrong, Frank Wright, Michael Pritchard; performed by Green Day
It might surprise you to learn that this very popular song (just listen to the sample on iTunes and you'll immediately recognize it!) was actually written by Billie Joe Armstrong after a break-up. Yet it's frequently played at weddings, anniversaries, proms, funerals, and graduations. It is often used at the end of television shows in a montage of scenes (or when some reality contestant has just been eliminated).
Green Day's song just proves the point that it's not what you say, it's how you say it that matters most. It's the context. It's the audience. It's the setup. Good presenters know that their words matter. Great presenters know that their words matter much less than how they deliver them.
Craft great words. Then deliver them with amazing expertise. And have the time of your life!
"No Day But Today (Finale B)" - from the Broadway show RENT; written by Jonathan Larson
In the Tony Award winning musical RENT, there are many powerful scenes and songs. Although the most popular is the opening of Act 2 with "Seasons of Love," it's the words quoted above and repeated in the finale that sock you in the gut each time you hear them. Having lost my brother Joe and my Aunt Carol years too early, I am often reminded that we have to live each day to its absolute fullest. Enjoy each day. Tell the people you care about how you feel. Approach life as my brother did â€“ living out loud with laughter and love.
No day but today.
"Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)" - written by Billie Joe Armstrong, Frank Wright, Michael Pritchard; performed by Green Day
It might surprise you to learn that this very popular song (just listen to the sample on iTunes and you"ll immediately recognize it!) was actually written by Billie Joe Armstrong after a break-up. Yet it's frequently played at weddings, anniversaries, proms, funerals and graduations. It is often used at the end of television shows in a montage of scenes (or when some reality contestant has just been eliminated).
Green Day' song just proves the point that it's not what you say, itâ€™s how you say it that matters most. It's the context. It's the audience. It's the setup. Good presenters know that their words matter. Great presenters know that their words matter much less than how they deliver them.
"Still like that old time rock and roll
"Old Time Rock and Roll" - written by George Jackson and Thomas Earl Jones; performed by Bob Seger
Certain songs require action. I don't know whether it's the passion of the lyrics or the power of the melody, but this great one by Bob Seger is