Since I last blogged about The Voice (see article on ‘Ruth Brown’) much has changed.
Britain’s Got Talent now appears to be winning the ratings war. Meanwhile, all hell has broken loose, it seems, on the BBC with some viewers complaining that the coaches’ comments are becoming “boring”.
What’s certainly true is that Jessie J, Tom Jones, Will.i.am and Danny O’Donoghue are missing a trick. Commenting on a performance in a very short space of time isn’t easy – whether you’re judging a song, a variety act or (in my world) a speech/presentation.
But it’s critically important to provide value for the audience – not just the artist, performer or speaker. While it may be tempting simply to state whether you liked it or not, a coach has a responsibility to go a stage further.
How, you may ask?
By pinpointing a specific aspect of the performance – and then offering a tip or insight which sheds fresh light for the benefit of those watching.
Jessie, Tom, Will and Danny have an extraordinary breadth and depth of singing expertise – yet as a viewer, I can’t help feeling a bit short-changed.
Let me give you an example:
In the most recent episode, I lost count of the number of times coaches commented on:
- “making the song your own”
- “you really made it your own”
- “you didn’t quite make it your own”
Errr…. right… but can you go a bit deeper than that??
Not only did the coaches’ comments become repetitive – they also felt superficial. Surely Tom Jones is capable of deeper insight than just stating whether the singer ‘made it his/her own’ or not?
How about shedding light on how a singer might take emotional ownership? Now THAT would be interesting to hear – both for aspiring singers and non-singers alike! The singer’s team coach is, surely, particularly well-placed to do this, having spent time one-to-one with that individual.
Just last weekend, I interviewed Alex Ashworth, a well-established professional opera singer and voice expert – he’s a Professor of Singing at the Royal Academy of Music, so he knows a thing or two about voice. [You can read the full interview on this blog in just a couple of days time - hit 'Subscribe' above left to ensure you receive it.]
Alex commented: “when I first started out as a school chorister, I thought it was all about ‘getting the music right.’ But now, getting the music ‘right’ is just the first step. I try to connect each section of the song – each phrase – with personal experience I have actually had…. so that the piece genuinely resonates with me. That way, as a singer you get to tell your story through the song – which is what engages the audience.”
Now that’s what I call an insight.
The same principle is true in public speaking – you ‘make the speech your own’ by connecting your message with personal experience you have actually had. And believe me, the audience picks up on that. Live performance is, by definition, emotive. It’s also profoundly human. The audience’s connection is with the individual performing, not the composer, not the songwriter, not the speechwriter.
So, when giving feedback as a coach, whether you’re on The Voice, a team leader at work or in some other situation, focus on practical value which can benefit all those involved.
Your audience will appreciate you. They’ll also be far less likely to switch off!
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