Mastering Stage Presence With Alvin Law

Feb 17, 2024

It's official, I'm writing a book on body language for public speaking. Well, I started writing the book last year but want to add value so I'm reaching out to select speakers for interviews.

Alvin Law came to mind first, how could I not want to interview a guy who was born without arms but plays jazz drums?

I learned:

One: Use Stage Craft

I always tell speakers that they should do 100 presentations for students. The "talking head" approach doesn't work when talking to students. Relaying loads of information does not work; it may work for teachers but we don't know what happens in class. I've had high school students tell me half their class plays video games during class. One teacher told students, "I don't get paid enough to care!"

I've trained students who've had a speaker come to their school in the morning, I see the student after school and ask, "What did the speaker talk about?"

"Hmmmm," the student says, "I don't even remember."

"Common, what's one thing they mentioned."

"Well, ummmm, to be honest, I didn't pay much attention."

"What were you doing?"

"I don't know."

Geez, kids these days, perhaps it was the overachieving students I worked with who were too overloaded with studies to care, or the speaker's message missed the mark.

Nobody knows for sure, but we do know that I've heard this same story 500 times, sometimes they say the speaker was funny or had an extreme story about drug addiction or a car accident but a month later I'll recap about that speaker and the student will have no recollection.

Listen, students who I've worked with for an entire semester have forgotten who I am too... I often ask myself, how do you leave a lasting impression?

Through surveying students I know that the sex speaker leaves a lasting impression, and the speaker with the gigantic backpack is remembered. I'm sure Avin is remembered and magicians leave a lasting impression.

But what makes these speakers stand out, is it stagecraft?

What is stagecraft? Jokes, hypnosis, a prop, the way you look, instruments, magic, a pattern interrupt... what just happened there?

Yes, as Alvin says, stagecraft, improv, and theatre are required to keep the attention of audiences especially students, and attention is getting shorter by the year.

To me, stagecraft is that thing that sticks in people's memories, the longer it sticks, the better your stagecraft!

Two: Comedy Is a Must

It was interesting to learn that Alvin doesn't turn to watching speakers for stage presence, he looks to comedians. I was happy to hear this because I do the same!

Speakers should all learn how to be funny; it's the easiest way to engage an audience, and it keeps the audience on their toes and wanting to hear more.

Alvin mentioned that he doesn't engage the audience, has no question periods or has them talk back; but, he studies humour. Humour is engaging, when people are laughing together they're in rapport, and speakers often tell me, "I don't tell jokes, I only find humour in the moment."

Fair enough, I like to be funny.

Three: Every Speaker Is Unique

Play to your strengths, Alvin uses his feet like hands, and this is a fact. The first time I met Alvin was at a conference and he sat at the same table beside me. The guy pulled up wearing a fanny pack, unzipped it with his feet, pulled his phone out, recorded the speaker on stage, grabbed a drink of water and I remember thinking, "I'm really underutilizing my legs!"

I never talked to Alvin, just stared at this brilliance, but when I reached out to him about the book I'm writing he got back to me right away and what a great character he is.

Alvin contributed a lot to my cause and I look forward to reaching out to more speakers and comedians to add maximum value to this project!

I encourage you to follow along on this journey to the big stage!