Use your character to create
a visual that leaves a
When the vice president of the
Brain Injury Association of Montana
approached me after my character
program, he said, “I was shocked!
I almost walked out once I realized
what was happening. I’m so glad I
stayed. That wasn’t a program—it
was a show! You need to take it on
What factors influence what
your audience deems appro-
priate for your character?
Here’s why Louis’ strip-
tease transformation to Lois
Louis sets the stage by saying, “When
I listen to Shania Twain sing, I am
transformed into an entirely differ-
ent person. Let me show you what I
mean.” The music starts, the audi-
ence chuckles, and Louis uses the
singer’s popularity to gain favor with
the audience before his quirky dance
turns into a striptease transforma-
tion. The visual is reinforced by the
lyrics, “It’s ’bout as bad as it could
be, seems everybody’s bugging me,
like nothing wants to go my way…
can only go up from here.”
Lois (the real me) opens her
portion of the keynote by saying,
“Louis represents a time when my
life looked ugly.” During my closing,
I adapt the symbolism of Louis to
reinforce the message and my call to
Characters will experience
limits imposed by the audience. Find your sweet spot.
If your character wears a mask, the audience can grow agitated if you don’t
reveal yourself after a certain point.
Twelve minutes after Louis takes the
stage, he starts his unveiling.
Develop your character’s diversity. Strategically relate your
character to each audience.
Transitioning to general audiences
required me to modify the symbolism of
my character so Louis would be relevant
to each specific audience. For example, in
workplace audiences, Louis can symbolize
stripping away the fear of measuring up or
letting go of resistance to change. It also
encourages workgroups to remove their
masks of limitation, consider new perspectives, learn humor strategies to cope, and
become confident in their abilities.