What Song Will They Sing?

Once upon a time, I dreamed of being an actor.  This dream was fueled by a steady diet of watching war movies at home with my dad, going to movies with my brother and watching Lewis Martin movies alone.  The first job I ever had was working as an usher at a movie theater; that should tell you how much I liked movies!

I spent many a day and evening, leaning against the back wall of that movie theater as an usher, and watching. Well, actually, I wasn’t just watching – I was studying the movies . I’d not only learned most of the lines of the movie, but there were always a few actors, scenes, or lines that truly resonated with me.  Not surprisingly, these were often the same few actors, scenes, or lines that resonated with the rest of the audience.  I found that rather interesting.

That same year in high school, I met Rob Ramoy, a teacher who had a huge impact on me.  He not only encouraged me to try out for the plays he directed, he taught me more about acting than any director I would go on to work with – and I worked with plenty of them. Within that catalogue of lessons, one particular conversation still stands out.  We were talking about a particular song that my character sang, and he told me this: “After every show, whether it’s a drama or a musical, there’s always one song that the audience members are singing as they leave the theatre. That’s the character and the song they just can’t get out of their heads.  If you work hard enough, that audience will leave this theater singing your song.”  I found that not just interesting; I found that lifechanging.

You may think it’s a coincidence that you’re walking out singing the same song as the person next to you, but I don’t.  For instance:

  • It’s not unusual to hear the song you’re singing more than once in the show. You’ll frequently catch a piece of it in the overture, the bulk of it when it’s sung, some more of it in an encore, and one more snippet in the reprise during the curtain call.
  • It’s not unusual to learn the song you’re singing was heavily rehearsed, and sung from a dedicated and determined actor. Like most things, effort and hard work significantly impact that what is remembered, and what is forgotten.

Now, I recognize that we’re not all aspiring actors, but we all do interact with our own forms of audience.  A salesman interacts with prospects, a teacher interacts with students, a job candidate interacts with hiring managers, and so on. There’s typically a lot of information being exchanged. The question becomes this: After these interactions are over, what song is it that we want these people to sing and remember?  For instance:

  • If a song is sung more than once in a show, it will be remembered much more than a song sung only once. Ask yourself this question: When you’re interacting with your audience, how often do you touch on the key elements of your message? It’s clear that not every message or module is as critical as others, but it wouldn’t be there if it did not provide some value.  Unless your plan is to sabotage your own message, you need to sing those songs full voice. That means that you need to repeat the key, core components of your message several times.
  • If a song is heavily rehearsed by those singing it, it will be remembered more than other songs. Now ask yourself this: When you’re getting ready for your moment in front of your audience, how much time and effort do you put into your preparation and learning the critical elements of your message? That’s how certain songs, or in this case, key elements of your message, are truly remembered.

Since you want your messages to be heard and remembered by your audience – it will be well worth your while to do the two things that actors do to be remembered: Repeat your most important messages several times, and make sure you reinforce them at the end.  Spend the time and energy on your presentation to make it exceptional.  Make sure you rehearse so much that the words will flow effortlessly and land with the impact you want. Your song is the song you want your audience to be humming as they leave your meeting – and now you know how to make that happen.

Related: Can You Sell And Problem Solve?