I saw two amazing concerts last week. Wednesday, I attended the 12-12-12 Concert for Hurricane Sandy Relief and Saturday, I got a last-minute ticket to see the last show on the The Rolling Stones 50th Anniversary Tour. The shows both featured amazing performances, but the pace was very different. The Stones ripped through song after song, pausing between each one, with limited banter. They introduced special guests quickly and they disappeared just as fast, playing their parts and heading off stage. The Stones are the consummate showmen, scripting everything so the fans get the most bang for their big bucks.
On the other hand, the 12-12-12 show featured over a dozen different performers. Breaks were necessary to change equipment and instruments. In fact, they used a revolving stage to help switch sets faster, but it still took five minutes between most acts. The time was filled with comedians, celebrities, and messages urging people to donate. However, for a rock concert, the pacing felt disjointed at times. Just when you were getting in to a set, it was over.
This made me think a bit about some of our recent presentations. I worry about the flow constantly. Will our audience feel that it's seemless? Are we bouncing back and forth too often between team members? How are we handling the transitions? We want to be The Rolling Stones, crisp, well rehearsed, to the point, and worth every penny.
Another interesting debate regarding the 12-12-12 show related to the order of the performers. With that many legends - and egos - sharing a stage, I am sure there were internal debates about the schedule and the amount of time each performer would receive. One thing was easy to decide. Sir Paul McCartney would close the show.
I was lucky enough to have a backstage pass and while I was hanging out, someone asked Billy Joel why he wasn't closing the show. His response was simple, "He's a Beatle." That, apparently, trumps all.
However, after McCartney's set, they brought back out Alicia Keys for Empire State of Mind. In fact, McCartney played as many Wings songs as Beatles tunes. There was some negative feedback surrounding his set list, especially since he closed the show. The Stones closed their show with Satisfaction. I heard countless people walking out of the arena humming the guitar riff or singing the chorus.
When we present to a prospective client, we are always concerned with the distribution of parts and particularly the open and the close. We always try to start strong, setting forth our objectives for the presentation and finishing with the key points. Naturally, people are going to remember the last thing you say.
As we prepare for our future presentations, I am going to keep these two amazing concerts in mind. While both offered great performances, one stood out from start to finish. In this case, The Stones trumped a Beatle.
And since we don't have a Beatle in our group, we need to make sure we come up with something great to hum as we walk out the door.