The Rhythm Method


I’m gonna create a new brand of dish washing liquid called “Epiphany” because a lot of creative things come to me while I’m washing dishes. As I’m staring out my kitchen window, and my mind wanders from my daily activities, free-form thinking slithers in and makes room for enlightenment. What is it about soapy water?

Lately, I’m getting a lot more speaking gigs  and they are going really well. Though I haven’t been doing it for very long professionally, it feels natural. It feels good. I talk about the advantages of on line marketing using video and social media, which I am very passionate about.  I know some folks struggle, but it seems second nature to me. I’m thinking, isn’t that weird? Then it hit me, it’s rhythm.

I have a musical background as well as stand up comedy experience and have always had to rely heavily on rhythm. Who knows, things might be a bit different today without it. Watch any good gospel preacher on a roll or a motivational speaker in the throws of his story and you’ll see a familiar pattern. Slow build, captivating delivery and then the finale. Works every time. Rhythm baby!

The same with jazz music or poetry. Duke Ellington and his orchestra would start the count in the dressing room and keep the tempo in their heads all the way to the bandstand. Then bam, the band was off and running in perfect sync and they never failed to bring the audience to their feet.

When I first started editing video I asked a pro what skills I would need to be a great editor. He said, “do you play a musical instrument?” which of course I did,  he said that’s good because making film cuts was like making music, you have to “feel” the pace and timing of the story. There’s a definite rhythmic flow to it. Speaking to live audiences can also take on a certain musical characteristic, where you have to put it all out there, get in that groove and take them on a journey. You have to be in the moment.

Telling a joke (successfully) is similar. I have rarely met a really good speaker who couldn’t pull off a good one. It’s that rhythm, timing and execution. You also have to be alert and sensitive to the mood of your audience.

You need to immerse yourself in the story. Have a picture in your mind’s eye. Visualize. Or the audience will pick up on it right away. Then out comes the smart phones.

I have to get back to the dishes but I would leave you with this. Next time you have to get up there and speak to an audience, feel the rhythm of the story in your head, sway into it, get your timing right and execute. Kill ‘em in their seats! Make them feel you, love you, root for you. Get really emotional about your subject. Or the rhythm will ebb and die.

Like any conductor, you don’t throw it at them, you invite them into your groove and let them experience you. Let the rhythm take you.


Please note: I welcome comments that are offensive, illogical or off-topic from readers in all states of consciousness.

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