One of the first conferences I attended in my quest to learn from the rest of the world was a one-day conference for singers offered by Renee Grant-Williams, of who has trained hundreds of country singers including the Dixie Chicks.

I figured that if she can teach them a thing or two, I might learn something as well.

Other posts in my blog contain Renee’s insightful ideas.

But I also learned from the performers, who were mostly older teens and younger 20’s, almost all women singer wannabees.

After the instructional portion of the conference ended, the singers could perform one song for talent scouts who gave them feedback via paper, privately. So the format was pretty simple. The singer is introduced, goes on stage, sings the song and sits down. No Randy, Paula and Simon to offer comments live. They got their feedback in the mail.

Sitting in the audience, I picked up a number of tips after seeing about 30 people strut their stuff.

1. Most of the people walked up on stage, stared at the audience and waited for their song to start.

I realized this was a big problem. There was no connection between the audience and the performer. They looked like deer staring at headlights. No, maybe that’s wrong. They weren’t scared. They just didn’t look like they cared about me and whether I liked them or the song. They were just up there to perform. I think I’ve seen more connection with the cashier at McDonalds.

The six people who really wowed the audience approached the stage differently. They owned the stage. They spoke to the audience immediately. You can tell they wanted to have a good time and for you to have a good time.

When the good ones performed, they used the whole stage. The average ones stood in one spot and barely moved their arms. The good ones had an extra feeling of energy.

The Idol judges are always saying they are looking for someone with “It.” After seeing 30 performers who could all sing pretty well, the six who stood out clearly had “It.”

As speakers or presenters, it is imperative to develop that “It” factor that creates bonds with the audience immediately.

See the next post on “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Stage.”

Today’s chipping point: What are you doing to connect with your audiences?