In 1973 the top selling album in Australia was Neil Diamond, Hot August Night. It stayed there for 29 weeks and was the #1 charting album in Australia during 1970’s. In 1982 it resurfaced again in the Australian top ten. During this time it was estimated that one in three households in Australia had the Hot August Night album in their collection.
It was the defining music of my youth. In the days before iPods and iPads Hot August Night was the only music my father would play on long trips. My Mother, Father, three brothers and I would be crammed into the Kingswood for a five hour drive to the see the sights in the Flinders Rangers or trek around the Eyre Peninsula.
Fast forward 20 or so years and I’m sitting with my husband at the Adelaide entertainment centre waiting for Neil Diamond to come on stage. I couldn’t resist digging Brenton in the ribs and saying:
“Oooo, here he comes honey, he’s well over 60 and he’ll toddle out with his walking frame…”
I couldn’t be more wrong. He came onstage like the rock star he is. Neil’s music doesn’t just span decades, it spans generations. There were 10,000 people in audience that night and their ages ranged from eight to eighty. Within 90 seconds he had everyone in the palm of his hand.
How did he achieve this? He looked at us.
He would focus on an individual in the crowd, smile, nod and give them a wink. He’d then move his gaze diagonally capture someone else in his sights give a grin and raise his hand. Another diagonal sweep, stop, and a look with; “How ya doin?”
You could see the people light up and lean in under his attention. It was mesmerising.
Now, before you get too excited and start grinning and winking at the audience, please keep in mind that you are NOT Neil Diamond. But what you can do is this:
Pick out a person in the audience, look at them, smile and direct a sentence just to them – then move your gaze diagonally and repeat.
That’s it. It’s what we all want. To be seen and acknowledged. Do this and you are on your way to engage like a rock star.
Side note: If, like one of my workshop participants, you think that Neil Diamond Hot August Night is a porn movie, you can hear the sell-out concert here.