Stagecraft Lessons from Gary Vee
In a room of about 1500, it was incredible to watch an expert communicator work with his audience. Much of the audience had come largely to see Gary Vee talk and you could feel the energy in the room due to a speaker speaking to exactly the right crowd.
There is a lot to learn from Gary’s content – go forth and find it. I had the pleasure of watching his presentation, then running the roaming microphones around the audience for question time. In those two different segments I watched closely his stagecraft and how his use of the speaking area complimented what he was trying to achieve.
He was great to be a microphone runner for – gave a bit of guidance, ‘pick someone from the back’ and left it to me to find the most enthusiastic looking person near the edges rather than having to clamber over bags and people. Life was made easy for us all!
Depth of stage:
This was a massive stage, 2/3 the width of the room and about 12 metres deep. Gary used a thin strip, all along the front. Pretty close to hanging ten for the full time, but the forward image and conversational tone he had made this perfect. He wanted to be as close to his audience as possible. I could see he was just communicating his message and doesn’t care for putting on a show or trying to be anything other than himself. So authentic. This was reinforced when, 10 minutes from the end of his presentation, he said ‘That’s really all I want to tell you guys, but I’m obliged to fill my time on stage’. Which he did, and that was great too.
During the presentation:
When Gary was just talking and presenting his knowledge and story, I watched where he stood versus where he talked. As he moved slightly to the left side of the stage, he’d speak primarily to the right side of the audience. And vice versa. This is a technique I’ve seen before and used myself during a conversational presentation; the stage movement isn’t for dramatic effect, but just for naturally moving among the people to speak to them. Presenting to the opposite side of the audience means you include a larger percentage of the crowd at that time. While on the left, you can easy connect with the entire right side, plus the front rows of the left – a wedge shape including over 50% of the listeners. If you speak to the same side, you leave out the entire other side.
During question time:
This was a method I’d not before seen, but could immediately see the effect. Whoever in a group, room or discussion is physically highest has the subconscious authority and power within that space. Gary was on a stage over a metre high, well above his seated audience. When an audience member was given a microphone, they stood up to speak to Gary and ask their question. He moved to the same side of the stage as that person and crouched down. He came down to their level and gave them the authority to speak. At one point he was squished up in front of the lecturn on stage. In that moment, he was all about that speaker, listening and giving them their moment. This also gave him the tool that, if the person was rambling and Gary wished to respond, he simply stood up, regaining the authority to speak. Genius!
I’ve said before I can’t help but watch how a speaker presents at any event more than the content they are relaying. Watching Gary Vee present was genuinely incredible. Feeling the energy of the room and watching his technique proved there is always something to learn. Thanks to Gary, we can now see another way to collapse the divide between a speaker on stage and the audience to best communicate a message.