We’re all in showbiz

I've been thinking about this for a while…In social media, we're all in showbiz.  

We have our stage, whether blogs, video or other networks. Our shtick, that is who we are, how we present ourselves and what we choose to do and say. And our audience (for better or worse).

We're out here singing our hearts out (or in my case playing recorder :)) – in the hopes that someone will listen and connect.  Our interactions are public. And the accolades and (savage) critics are always lurking in the wings. 

The same holds true for our real life communications experiences, especially when we're giving a talk.

This hit home for me when I returned from the annual Counselors Academy conference, where I had the honour and pleasure of being the chair.

Reflecting on the content that resonated most for me this year and from past events I realized that three things are at their core: comedy, concepts or creativity.

In other words, showbiz.

From 2012's stellar lineup (if I do say so myself), I was captivated by Jay Baer and Gini Dietrich doing a two-step keynote, Marcus Sheridan's in your face, playful style, Elise Mitchell who has the passion of an evangelist, Darryl Salerno's knack for making profitability entertaining, Steve Cody's standup irreverence, and Candy Chang's fresh take on spatial relationships.

Past sessions that stood out include Jay Baer's high energy Now Revolution keynote, Dana Hughens' folksy and magical Myrtle, Robert Scoble's entropic social vision, Darryl Salerno's New York-style English lessons, Giovanni Rodriguez unraveling the mysteries of social media, Josh Hallett giving a social media advanced course, John Deveney using his New Orleans hometown to demonstrate how to prepare for a crisis and Robert Cialdini on ethics, influence and reciprocity.

Each of these featured people brought their ideas to life with passion, personality and pizzazz.

We didn't sign up to be entertainers – well some of us did… But now it's more important than ever to think of the show we're giving for our biz.  How can we standout, be memorable and yes, move or inspire the crowd.

This is something new for communicators and especially PR people who are used to living in the shadows. So now that we're ready for our close-ups, here are six ways to help you put on a good show in social media and IRL:

  1. Think about your strengths and what you're good at: are you funny, intense, self-effacing, able to explain complex ideas in a simple way? Use that as the foundation for your 'act'.  
  2. But be authentic. Everybody loves a clown, but no one likes a phony.
  3. Substance AND style count. So add some sizzle to your routine. But ease up on the schmaltz. You're onstage and not talking to yourself. 
  4. Don't aim to please everyone or you'll become too generic or bland. As Ricky Nelson says, you've got to please yourself..
  5. It's a show. That means you should rehearse, rehearse and rehearse again. And when you go out there, give it your all.
  6. And if you bomb, learn from it so you'll do better next time. There's no comedian around who hasn't been greeted with silence (or worse-believe me, I know).

We all have talents that make us stand out and wonderful stories to tell. And if we imbue our ideas with a bit of razzle dazzle, you'll be amazed what you can offer people, what they'll take away and where it might take you.

So are you ready for the curtain to rise?

About Martin Waxman

Martin Waxman is a digital, social media and communications strategist, content marketer, social media trainer and instructor and co-founder of three PR agencies. He blogs at myPALETTE and hosts the Inside PR podcast.


One of the things I really love about social media (and Facebook, in particular) is it gives me a stage to test ideas, theories, and even comments. It provides us a level playing field where we can get immediate feedback on things we're trying, which can relate to product or service R&D. I use Facebook as my own personal stage, but I would never get up on an actual stage. It's an interesting way to think about showbiz.

Latest blog post: Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?

Dana Hughens
Dana Hughens

Love this, Martin! Really smart tips -- I need to be reminded of #4 on a regular basis. :-) Also, thanks for the Myrtle shout-out. Maybe it is time to dust off that number and get the show back on the road!


Interesting analogy, Martin. Although I've been seeing friends and colleagues on the social media stage for years now, I hadn't thought of their participation as akin to entertainers despite some of the social media rock star talk. This is definitely something to remember for our clients engaging in social media as well. Although at the end of the day, substance is key, putting on a good show is crucial is you want your message to stick with your audience.

martinwaxman moderator

Thanks @Dana Hughens! We want to please so much that we can bury our style and the (I hate this word but will still use it) - edgier things we may want to say. Yes, we have to know our audience, but we also have to take them on a Mytrle-esque journey. I think you should definitely bring it back.

martinwaxman moderator

Thanks @EdenSpodek. I completely agree about content being first. When I was really young and doing standup, one lesson I learned was that hilarious material isn't enough - you need to have great delivery too (the show)...The trick is to figure out how to combine them.


@martinwaxman Absolutely! Another trick is sticking to the presentation format that works best for you and being careful about when and how you go outside your comfort zone. Maybe we need to start adding standup or acting lessons to our professional development events?

martinwaxman moderator

Funny you should mention that @EdenSpodek. Steve Cody, who runs Peppercom in NYC, does standup training for all its staff and do sessions on integrating comedy into presentations for clients. I really like that.


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