Perfecting the Performance Persona

Light as a feather…stiff as a board…

Does either of these extremes describe your presenters?

Helping senior leaders deliver a compelling performance can be a tough job. But in order for their message to come through, they need to find the authentic voice that lets them shine.

Everyone has a role they naturally play. And it is this role that informs our onstage persona. When a presenter is at odds with this natural function, the audience senses the disconnect and spends more of their time dissecting this dichotomy instead of concentrating on the content.

This is where you can be of the most help.

Go one step beyond helping them craft their message and help them uncover their onstage persona by asking the following questions:

  •  When are they at their best?

Ask presenters to imagine a time when they were at their best. It doesn’t have to be business related, but it should feel authentic.

  • What role do they play?

There are 7 functions that we can serve in any situation. One of these functions is your presenter’s natural persona.

  • Teacher – Your presenter recalls an instance when they had to explain something or impart some life lesson.
  • Coach – Your presenter had to motivate a team through a tough situation…or just enjoys working with his or her son’s little league team.
  • Entertainer – Your presenter may have an artistic streak reserved for the weekends. Or maybe they are known around the office as the one who can always make everyone feel good through “performance’ – even in a small setting.
  • Salesman – Your presenter had to convince someone, using facts or anecdotes (or just their supreme powers of persuasion).
  • Counselor – Your presenter had to offer comfort, support or advice.
  • Connector – Your presenter brought ideas or people together.
  • Doer – Your presenter is someone who gets stuff done, for example, was given a big project with an impossible deadline and still managed to come through with flying colors.
  • How would that persona present the speech content?

This is where your communications expertise comes in. You will now help translate the message for the presenter’s most natural persona.

  • If a Teacher, make sure to add plenty of explanation.
  • If a Coach, use plenty of motivational language.
  • If an Entertainer, inject some levity.
  • If a Salesman, provide  a setup and payoff for key points.
  • If a Counselor, give reassurance for any bold statements.
  • In a Connector, find similarities to show the overlap between subject areas
  • If a Doer, sprinkle in examples of the speaker or employees taking action

Presenters want to do well on stage, but self-analysis is a trick business. By helping them define their offstage persona, you’ll ensure that no matter what they say onstage, they’ll be speaking the language of leadership.

Opening Minds Thru Music

If music is the soundtrack of our lives, then walk-in music is your meeting’s needle drop. A purely subjective medium, music can connect or alienate your audience faster than you can hit that perfect beat (boy). In fact, according to research out of Northwestern University music enters our nervous system via our brain stem – aka the “reptilian brain” – the most primitive part of our noggin. It’s why music elicits such a visceral response and why songs can have such a profound impact on your mood.

Whether “Take My Breathe Away” whisks you back to high school prom, or “We Are Never Getting Back Together” recalls your most recent breakup, you are powerless to control your emotional response.

That’s why creating meeting playlists can be so tricky. So before you hook up your iTunes playlist to your sound system and hope for the best (“How did the f bomb get in here? I thought I picked the radio edit!”) – here are a few pointers for creating a soundtrack the audience will appreciate – and remember.

Top 40

Pros: Instantly recognizable and usually toe-tappable, this music immediately puts your audience at ease. Use compilations such as Now That’s What I Call Music to save yourself from having to scan the recent played listings from your favorite radio station. And expand to top 100, international charts and alternative genres to find newer artists.

Cons: Have you listened to Top 40 lyrics recently? They make you want to wash your ears out with soap! Avoid any suggestive or potentially controversial lyrics, even if the song has a “good beat.” You don’t want to walk-in music to be the big takeaway from your meeting.

 Themed Music

Pros: When you have a meeting theme, using music to bring it to life creates a more integrated experience, especially when it is carried thru the entire event, from walk-in, to speaker play-ons, and walk-out. For example, if you have a historical vibe – “Look how far our organization has come!” – choose songs from key years in the company’s timeline. Whatever the theme, still take the time to check lyrics.

Cons: Finding songs aligned with your theme and content requires more effort that using “what all the kids are listening to these days.” But the payoff can be big, especially when a song becomes an internal rallying cry. Remember that shortcut to the reptile brain? The themed soundtrack is the fastest way to stream your message directly to your audience’s subconscious.


Pros: Want to learn more about how your audience thinks and feels? Invite them to send their favorite songs to create a custom soundtrack. While you’ll need to remind them to choose songs with clean lyrics, leave the rest to serendipity. You may be surprised how many “Eye of the Tiger” submissions you receive.

Cons: Managing curated content takes additional time, but the payoff for the audience is huge. People bond over favorite songs, and this spirit of camaraderie will infuse the rest of your event.

Whether you stick with mainstream sound, or break out into crowd-sourced audio, the soundtrack you create for your next meeting establishes the vibe of the room. Instead of leaving it to chance, consider how want your audience to feel during, and even after, your event.

Let your music set the mood, while your content does the rest.

Valspar Growth Forum

For Valspar’s Growth Forum, we partnered with the hotel’s in-house resources to create an intimate environment for the company’s top leaders to roll up their sleeves and set the strategy for the company’s next 5 years.





Private Party Art Installation

Turning a series of storage containers into an interactive performance art installation takes some serious logistics chops. Thank goodness the Bricolage Group was on hand to make this private party one to remember for years to come.

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Sealed Air Global Town Hall

When Sealed Air asked us to produce its global town hall, we said, “no problem!”

We did a satellite feed from corporate HQ…

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And connected to 25,000 employees around the world.

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Conservation International Fundraiser

For Conservation International’s annual fundraiser, the Bricolage Group partnered with Catalyst – another boutique creative agency – to transform an airplane hangar into an upscale networking function for 600 attendees.

Raw space

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Design Concept


Final Look

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International Climate Change Summit

For 3 days, Amsterdam was home to more than 200 global change specialists.  Working with production professionals from six countries, The Bricolage Group handled the entire project – from initial feasibility studies of the 500-year-old cathedral where the event was held to the post-show communications plan that kept attendees connected to the meeting objectives.







Keeping Audiences From Tuning Out

Vary the lengths of your segments to keep your audience engaged, e.g. follow a 30-minute talking head with a 15-minute Q&A or 10-minute activity (audience response, talent, etc.). Variety is the spice of life, so add some flavor to your next meeting.