Performing Like A Professional — Barry Manilow

Lessons learned from a Barry Manilow performance.

This weekend (Memorial Day weekend) I saw Barry Manilow perform Music and Passion at the Las Vegas Hilton, a sold-out show for 1700 people.  It’s been about two years since I’ve seen his show.  It was one of the best in town then.  And it still is.  I ran into friend Peter Pizor at the end of the show who also had seen it two years ago and he said:  “Two years ago I thought it was the best Las Vegas show I’d ever seen.  Tonight’s show was even better!”

I reviewed lessons learned from his show in an April 2006 blog post.  I highlighted:
1.  His smile.
2.  His eye contact.
3.  His natural delivery.
4.  Story telling.
5.  His personal contact with the audience.
6.  Poking fun at himself.
7.  Clean humor.

Here are some more Keepers from Barry Manilow’s Music and Passion.

Keep in shape.  In less than a month, Barry Manilow turns 62.  He looks great.  Fit. Energetic.  Enjoying himself.  He has been performing nightly at the Las Vegas Hilton for over two years and shows no hint of being tired of it.  What impressed me both times, in addition to his overall good shape, was the fitness of his voice.  To sing for 90 minutes with no break, while keeping a strong voice, is amazing.  Professional singers have great coaches  who show them how to perform.  Effective use of the voice.  Proper breathing.  There is a lot we can learn from that as speakers.

Powerful Stories.  He tells the story of his grandfather and his first performance at Carnegie Hall.  The audience was noticeably moved.  He added power to the story by including photographs and sound clips from those early days.  He also shared video footage of one of his first TV appearances, being introduced by Clive Davis.  It showed the young Manilow singing Mandy. It was one of my favorite parts of the show.  He closed that segment by singing a duet with the younger Manilow.  Powerful storytelling, taking us back in time.

The Power of You.  As speakers, we’ve examined in previous posts the power of YOU versus ME or I.  He opened his show with It’s A Miracle (the miracle is you) and This One’s For You.  Perfect choices for connecting with the audience right at the start.  As speakers we need to open with segments that connect and relate to our audience.  It’s not about us.

Building The Energy.  There are at least two elements to this lesson.  First part of lesson, he built the energy before the show started with high-energy recorded music.  One of the last songs (not THE last song) before the show started was The Village People’s YMCA.  I don’t think any recorded song does more to get the audience involved than that one.  The next song was also high-energy (I don’t remember what it was) but the audience basically sat down and listened to it.  However, the musical energy continued to build.  What was interesting was the obvious increase in energy when the LIVE band struck the first chord, reinforced with lighting cues.  It was Showtime and the audience was primed and ready to go.  The second part of the lesson, he built the energy throughout the show, closing with Copacabana (At The Copa) and a drop-down stage that brought him into the middle of the audience. Streamers. Confetti.  A first-class closing to one of the best shows in town.

Catch him at the Las Vegas Hilton while you can.  He won’t be there forever!  I also highly recommend Barry Manilow’s Music and Passion DVD recorded live at the Las Vegas Hilton.  It’s the next best thing to being there.