Sometimes presenters have trouble figuring out what to do with their hands. It can happen to the best of us.
We recently watched the extremely talented Jon Bon Jovi and his band mates at the always-cool induction ceremonies for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. While the band members all got to say a few words after they were introduced by Howard Stern (who was angry that producers edited the televised version of his speech), it was Jon who spoke for the bulk of the time.
His content was terrific—well-rehearsed and coordinated with slides showing behind him. He shared a few great stories and memories, acknowledged his musical idols and influencers, and thanked his family, friends and colleagues in the process, all in front of an adoring audience.
Jon Bon Jovi certainly knows how to perform in front of a crowd. He did a nice job with his 18-minute presentation, but with a few tweaks, the musical legend could have been great. Clearly, he’s used to performing with a guitar in his hands or hanging on to a mic stand. But on this stage, it was just him and an untouched microphone. No podium, no instrument, no place to put his hands. He seemed uncomfortable and unsure what to do with them.
In the eyes of his audience, Bon Jovi could do no wrong on this special night, but we think he could have done better. Had he sought out help from EMS ahead of time, here’s how we would have coached him:
Slow down, dude! It was clear that he was reading from a teleprompter, and we thought he read way too quickly. There were many times when he failed to pause long enough to let the excited and appreciative crowd react; when the audience cheered, he plowed through their applause and continued at his same pace. We would encourage him to slow down, pause longer, and acknowledge his audience’s reactions, just like he would on stage.
Body language. There was a lot of sameness to his delivery—same tone, same stance, same gaze into the prompter. He stood in one place the entire time, made very little eye contact, and gave off the same facial expressions. He wouldn’t do that while performing, so why do it now?
What about the hands? Bon Jovi struggled with where to put his hands. We saw a few gestures, mostly one-handed ones that looked natural enough, though not consistent. He reverted most often to a pose we call the “fig leaf,” with both hands crossed just above his crotch, or at times across his belly. We recommend larger, more distinct gestures that go outside of the strike zone—above your shoulders or beyond your body. On a big stage, with a big audience, there was a lot of room for movement. (For a great example of successful gestures, read our blog article on the Reverend Bishop Michael Curry’s sermon at the royal wedding.)
Jon, be sure to contact us before your next hall of fame induction!