Monday, August 31, 2009

You don’t need a full orchestra

While on vacation recently we went to a musical called Anne & Gilbert in Summerside, PEI. We’ve been to musicals in Toronto and on Broadway in New York and this was at least as enjoyable. If you know the Anne of Green Gables story and want to see a musical that takes the story on the next journey, go to to check it out.

Here’s why I mention the experience. In all the big musical stage productions they have a full orchestra. But in Anne and Gilbert, they only had three instruments accompanying the musical: a piano, violin and cello (no, there wasn’t a recorded soundtrack either). And it sounded just as good as the productions with all the instruments. It got me thinking about presentations. Do you really need all the fancy bells and whistles or will keeping it simple do just as well? I think keeping it simple and making sure you deliver your message is the way to go. Most of us don’t have the time or ability to do all the really fancy whiz-bang stuff in PowerPoint anyway.

The producers of this musical decided to keep the background music simple and let the actors tell the story through their words, actions and singing. In your next presentation, focus on telling your story through what you say and simple visuals. You don’t really need the full orchestra.


Blogger Dr. Jim Anderson said...


Amen to that. It's just a bit like when you are cooking - a little can go a long way. Although you don't want to bore your audience, you also don't want to overwhelm them!

Finding the right balance can take a lifetime!

- Dr. Jim Anderson
The Accidental Communicator Blog
"Learn How To intimately connect with your audience in order to make an lasting impact in their lives."

5:50 PM  
Blogger mplebon said...

Great post Dave.

Reminds me of a time when I was in high school. I helped build the set for a play that my school intramural team was putting on. It was a "Fall Festival of the Arts" competition and the group I belonged to was up against three others.

Our set was very elaborate. The setting of the play took place in the kitchen of a country home. We had everything on stage . . yes . . even the kitchen sink and also a roof over the kitchen.

Each play was critiqued by three judges. (teachers who had acting experience to some degree.)

We thought our play would win the award for "Best Set" hands down. However to our disappointment, we were scolded for the excess of the design and the judges pointed out to all the props on the stage that were not used by the actors.

Who won the "Best Set" award? The play that had a white sheet backdrop, a table and three chairs. Lesson learned!

Forget the glitz if it does not add to your message or help clarify it. Animation can be very distracting if misused. However animation can clarify the message and help explain the meaning of a graph or table of information. The trick is to know how much and when to use it.

Enjoy your blog Dave!

7:31 AM  

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