Dawn: You performed “Runt of the Litter”, the one-man show you wrote, 1,300 times. I’ve seen these stories over and over again, at every speech. Some of you have seen his Axel story or UC Davis story repeatedly. So how do you keep it fresh?
Bo: Most people just repeat whatever they did the last time they spoke. They’ve committed certain body movements to memory and they just go out and repeat them. They don’t need an audience because the audience doesn’t matter. I was taught the audience is your lifeline. Think about that for a second. If you don’t have them, you’ve got nothing. The speaker doesn’t care about what comes out of his or her mouth. They care about their own lives.
When I tell the Axel story, I’m not worried about memorizing each word; I’m looking at you. I’m connecting to human beings. I’m waiting for you to sit down. As soon as I have the connection, I talk. I never talk when people aren’t listening. People aren’t listening when they’re hustling through the door. People aren’t listening when they’re trying to find their seat. I’m just looking for that lifeline.
I’m always searching for the best energy in the room. All I want is connection. I want the lifeline. If I don’t have it, I’m falling off a cliff. When I have the connection, anything that comes out of my mouth is golden. Most speakers are so worried about they’re saying, but audiences really don’t care. They care about how the speaker is expressing him or herself through their bodies.
So many times you hear a speaker talking to their audience like they’re stupid. Politicians do it. The media does it. They talk to us like imbeciles. So we become imbeciles. If you view your audience as your lifeline, and the connections you make as critical, then you can make true impact.