Friday 23rd August, 2013

In Praise of the Vest

I feel bad writing this.

I’m a nurturer.

I encourage people to follow their instincts and take risks.

But this performance from Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer is excruciating on so many levels I barely know where to start.

Thumbnail image for video

1. It’s inauthentic.

Yes, you should be yourself on stage, but not your ‘usual’ self and not your ‘flamboyant’ self either. Yourself, but turned up a notch. To 11 (not 20, or 5000, 11). Be mindful of what your competitors are doing but stick to your guns. As Dr Seuss said (and Dr Seuss is never wrong about anything), no one is youer than you. You do need to turn the volume up a little but no so loud you scare people.

2. Channelling is good, but be careful what you’re channelling

It’s a great idea to ‘channel’ an emotion through your performance. But this is taking things TOO FAR. As an audience member (albeit via YouTube) I feel so embarrassed. That’s not a good thing.

3. If you must do it (go crazy, wave your hands in the air like you just don’t care), don’t over do it.

I could probably have ridden this out had it not lasted a full 1 minute 15 seconds. Five seconds would have been forgivable.

4. If you’re breathless, panting and sweaty, you’ve over-done it.

Whatever shape you’re in, do all you can to exude health on stage. If you seem unwell, the auidence may fixate on that and not your message (they are compassionate beings after all).

5. I don’t advocate full mental rehearsal for nothing.

Just because you’re comfortable jiggling your ‘moobs’ (‘man boobs’) on stage doesn’t mean the audience is comfortable about looking at them. Please. Wear a vest. It’s only decent. Men, vests under shirts are good. No woman is going to jump about on stage without a bra underneath her clothes for the very same reason. We all benefit from a bit of support.

There’s a place for these shenanigans. It’s here, and I wholeheartedly approve.

Enough said.

Categories: Channelling, Preparation


  1. Mike B says:

    No-one illustrated this better that Tony Blair some ten to 15 years ago when, on a hot Summer day he went out vestless. His perspiration darkened large areas of his shirt and thereby (in my eyes) diminished the stature of the man and his message.

    “If you cannot manage the quality of your presentation, how can we trust you to run the country?” was the unspoken thought.”

    I cannot remember what the speech was about. I do remember Sweaty Tony. I have at times been chided for wearing a vest on hot days. I know its value.

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