Without the right material even a “natural” performer can fail.
You get the feeling that Charlie Sheen isn’t going to learn from his mistakes. But maybe we can. No, I’m not suggesting that we take a lesson in how to handle relationships with our wives, bosses, or “guests” in our hotel rooms from Mr. Sheen. But the live tour he has just embarked on certainly gives us a good example of how not to handle a live presentation.
From all accounts the “Torpedo of Truth” tour’s first stop in Chicago was an unmitigated disaster that ended with fans (people who had actually been willing to pay money for this event) walking out during the middle of the show and Sheen abandoning the stage after less than an hour. What went wrong? Based on the clips I’ve seen, it looks like lots of things. Aside from the star’s brain chemistry, I’d be willing to bet that the main culprit was simply a lack of preparation.
According to many of the people who have been talking about him on TV lately, Sheen can apparently be very charming in person. He seems like the kind of guy who has been told that he has a great personality and come to rely on this belief in all the facets of his life. He’s publicly criticized the work of the creator and writers of his former TV show while claiming all the credit for its success himself. It’s been reported that he regularly missed rehearsals and said that he doesn’t need to rehearse; you get the feeling that he thought that it was enough to show up and be himself, that the whole show was powered by his personality.
Apparently this worked for him for years. So he tried to do the same thing with his live show. He thought he didn’t need material (or writers), that he could just go out on stage and work his charm on the audience. An improvised rant here, a catch phrase there, little or no planning required. How could that plan fail?
This is a problem that people who think of themselves as “natural” performers and enthusiastic public speakers often come up against eventually. They’re so confident in their abilities that they can fail to think about what they need to provide for their audience in order to make a presentation a success.
Don’t ever be that inconsiderate of your audience– even if they aren’t paying they’ll resent you if they feel like you haven’t given them a good reason to be there. Always try to keep in mind that any presentation should be about the audience’s needs, not yours.