How disclosure can lure an audience

disclosure in communication skillsAn unexpected disclosure can really ‘wow’ your audience – here’s a good example I heard recently. Disclosure means controversy, so ‘planned disclosure’ like this may be the place to start.

 Classical concertgoers aren’t used to hearing controversy or disclosure from the stage. As @davidlister1 recently pointed out, a programme for an arts event might faithfully list the cast’s past performances. But it might also omit to mention more interesting titbits, such as the fact that the evening’s two central performers are married to each other.

Imagine, then, the impact of Leonard Bernstein’s two-and-a-half-minute introduction to a 1962 piano concerto, where he distances himself from the pianist about to come on stage – unheard of.

Bernstein’s words are captivating, and though enhanced by his clear delivery and sense of theatre, it’s the element of disclosure that keeps us listening. Bernstein makes his radio and concert hall audiences feel privileged, special, and grown-up enough to benefit from hearing his respectful reservations. Listen to how he moves his audience from their nervously polite laughter near the beginning, to unrestrained laughter a minute later. Bernstein’s boldness won his audience, and I imagine their enjoyment of the piece was the greater for it.

Hear Bernstein’s speech at http://bbc.in/1VREop5

Press reaction was indignant. They questioned Bernstein’s motives and judgement in making the audience privy to the artistic disputes between conductor and soloist. The soloist himself, however, later said he was amused and charmed by Bernstein’s words. Just as the audiences had been on the night.

Fearless storytelling, a quality delivery, and well-judged disclosure – a lesson to us all.