There’s more to Champagne Papi than his rhymes. Here’s how Drake can teach you how to become a better presenter.
“Isn’t it amazing how you talk all this sh*t and we still lack communication” — Connect, Drake
We know what you’re thinking: “You want me to take professional advice from Drake, the rapper?”
Yes. Hear us out.
We’re sure you’ve seen the memes, heard the jokes, and may have even been seen laughing at some of the crazy stuff Drake has done over the last decade. But there’s no denying that the once Wheelchair Jimmy, now Champagne Papi superstar has a knack for public speaking. After first hosting the 2011 Canadian Juno Awards, and then the 2013 Espy Awards, the actor turned rapper officially added a new skill to his repertoire: Public speaking. Since then, he has gone on to present at many other award shows, including hosting the first ever NBA awards that took place last June. His ability to communicate effectively, while still holding the attention of his audience with good humour and strong stage presence, all make Drake an excellent example of what it means to present like “you only live once, that’s the motto … YOLO!”
Here are four reasons why Drizzy-Drake is such an effective presenter.
1. He has great stage presence.
“I’m a star, no spangled banner” — Light Up, Drake
If you’ve seen Drake’s music video for Hotline Bling, then you’ve definitely seen his interesting take on what it means to “dance like no one’s looking.” Now, imagine his carefree dance moves in the context of a public speaking gig., except, instead of Drake moving his body like he’s celebrating his promposal request getting accepted, he’s letting loose through a carefully crafted speech.
That, my friends, is the kind of Champagne Papi stage presence Drake brings to a room when he steps before an audience. He’s calm, cool, and collected, and most importantly, he knows how to captivate his listeners’ attention through his walk, his talk, and his subtle, yet strategically planned movements.
Now, if you choose not to agree with the Champagne Papi definition of stage presence, there is a more standard definition, which is, “the ability to command an audience with impressive style or manner.”
When Drake walks on stage, he moves like he owns it and the people sitting in front of it. There’s a level of calmness in his body language as he speaks to his audience. And it’s that calmness and confidence that commands the crowd’s attention.
If we look at Drake’s first hosting gig at the ESPY Awards, every one of his movements is strategically planned to go hand in hand with his dialogue. In the beginning of his monologue, we see him stand still as he introduces himself and the purpose of that night’s festivities. According to public speaking coach Ed Chow, by doing this, he’s allowing his audience to become familiar with him. Chow also found that when a speaker stands on stage with an erect spine with their weight equally distributed on both feet, they demand presence. In this opening monologue, we see Drake effectively do this again and again.
He doesn’t just stand still either. During his speeches, you can find him constantly moving around, pacing left and right as he speaks, trying to engage with the audience even more. He is implementing what is called moving with purpose, meaning every movement he makes is there to further support his message.
According to public speaking mentor Patricia Fripp, that’s a strategy exceptional speakers incorporate into their public speaking to captivate the attention of their audience. You can even see this technique play out in many TED Talks.
Finally, if we continue to look at his monologue for the 2013 ESPY Awards, Drake engages in what’s considered transitional movements, which is when a speaker moves between one thought and the next. For every point that he makes, you can see that he changes his movement to better capture the attention of his audience and also better emphasize the importance of his points.
This combination of standing with an erect spine, moving with purpose, and using carefully planned transitional movements are a highly effective and captivating blend of public speaking tools. Drake has them mastered, and we should all take note.
2. His delivery is on point.
“Now peep the way I deliver on the beat / Is what you lack, yeah that’s why I’m so sweet” — The Grind, Drake
The best speeches are ones that have a great beginning, a memorable end, and not much in between.
Much like a good rap song (or a good joke), delivery is crucial when getting your message across. Without a proper execution, its impact can easily be lost. The great thing about Drake is that he’s exceptional at delivering his dialogue. From the fluctuation of his tone of voice to the pace of his words, he knows when to pause, emphasize, and alter his voice to achieve maximum impact.
As human beings, our brains are wired to listen more attentively to the vocal changes in a speaker’s voice. It was even found that a 10% increase in vocal variety can have a significant impact on audience attention and message retention.
When we look at Drake’s keynote address at the Apple Music launch event, everything from his body movements, to his hand gestures, to the pacing of his words all strengthen the delivery of his message. Public speaking coach Edmund Chow explains this as giving your audience the mental space to really take in what you have to say. By speaking slowly and allowing them to understand what he’s saying, Drake is able to connect with his audience on a stronger level. No fake love on his end.
3. He knows how to be humorous.
“Ask you to please excuse my table manners / I was making room for the table dancers” — All Me, Drake
Want to know what we mean by “humorous”? Watch this skit.
There’s no denying that Drake can be a pretty funny guy. But the comedic touch he has during his speeches is the type of funny that’s always refreshing (and surprising).
Presentation skills expert Akash Karia explains that using humour in public speaking is a great way to keep your audience engaged and interested in what you’re saying. He explains that, by having a humorous opening, you can create a sense of comfort between the speaker and the audience. One of the best-known secrets to achieving humour is by setting up an expectation and then breaking it. Time and time again, we see Drake execute this technique flawlessly.
Let’s take a look at some of his jokes at the 2017 NBA Awards:
“I love New York. It’s a city that never sleeps. [Pause] Mostly because everyone that lives here is afraid of being traded.”
The expectation? That Drake would’ve talked about the wild nightlife in New York. Instead: He talks about the New York Knicks players being afraid of getting traded, taking a jab at the recent trades that have happened so far.
“People were upset that I’m the host for the first-ever NBA awards because they say I’m a bandwagon fan. I just want to address that, you know, it hurts. I’ve said it time and time again, it’s not true — it’s ridiculous. I have two teams okay. [Pause] One for my hometown…and for whoever’s winning at the current time.”
The expectation? That Drake would talk about the specific two teams he roots for in the NBA. Instead: He confirms that he is, in fact, a bandwagon fan because he actually doesn’t have a specific second team — he just roots for the team who’s currently dominating the game.
“Paul Pierce retired this year — the truth! Make some noise for the truth — my god. You know, after a very long career, fans were in shock as they were under the assumption that he had left ten years ago.”
The expectation? That Drake would talk about Celtic fans being shocked about Paul Pierce leaving the NBA. Instead: Drake jokes about fans being shocked because they already thought he left!
In each of these jokes, Drake breaks the expectation he has set up by saying something unexpected. By doing this, he successfully executes a humorous monologue and achieves the laughter he wanted from the audience, thus making him an entertaining host/presenter.
4. He knows how to involve the audience.
“As long as you end up saying one day you plan to listen / ‘Cause what’s a star when it’s most important fan is missing?” — Say Something, Drake
It’s one thing to be on stage, but it’s another thing to make your audience feel like they’re on stage with you. Drake is excellent at making his audience feel comfortable, and one of the ways he does this is by telling the audience to give themselves a round of applause. In almost every speech he has done, Drake makes it a habit to show appreciation to the audience by making them feel special. By doing so, he is creating a more positive experience for his audience, as people are more likely to have positive memories of a show if there is an abundance of enthusiastic applause on a frequent basis. Don’t believe us? Go and watch any 90s sitcom. Seinfeld and Friends were two of the most beloved shows of that era and both included samples of studio audience laughter.
Now, who remembers the Lance Stephenson cam segment at the ESPY Awards? It was the hilarious moment when Drake reenacted pro basketball player, Lance Stephenson, and his odd gentle blowing gesture towards Lebron James during one of their match-ups. If there had to be one example of what it means to involve your audience, it would be that. Not only was that embarrassingly funny, it was up-close and personal, and set the tone for the rest of the show: funny, light-hearted, and slightly outrageous.
What We Can Take Away From These Examples
When we look at all the things that make Drake a good public speaker, they all go back to the underlying characteristic the Young Money rapper possesses: Confidence. There is no way he would’ve been able to romantically blow into another man’s ear on national television, in front of thousands — if not millions — of people, if he was not comfortable with who he was as a person. He would not have been able to successfully execute joke after joke at the NBA awards if he wasn’t confident in his ability to get a laugh at his own expense. And there’s no way he could’ve incorporated his goofy personality into his monologues/speeches/presentations if he didn’t accept that that goofiness was apart of his personality.
“You should just be yourself / Right now, you’re someone else” — Hotline bling, Drake
All of the techniques we’ve stated above — standing with presence, engaging in movement for each point you make, engaging in vocal tonnage changes and strategic pauses, involving your audience — cannot be properly utilized if you, as a speaker, are not comfortable with who you are as a person.
Once we are able to accept who we are as people (perhaps we’re the goofy one at the office, or the awkward one, or the hyper one), our confidence will be what strengthens our communication skills. And it’s this confidence, in all forms — verbal, written, body language — that will, in the end, make us better, more authentic, more convincing public speakers.
What do you think is the best way to incorporate confidence and personality into presentations? Is there such a thing as too much? Leave a comment in the section below and let us know!
Abrahams, M. (2016, April 4). A Big Data Approach to Public Speaking. Retrieved August 17, 2017, from https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/insights/big-data-approach-public-speaking
Chow, E. (2016, May 15). How To Develop A Strong Stage Presence. Retrieved August 17, 2017, from https://publicspeakingstrategies.wordpress.com/2016/05/15/how-to-develop-a-strong-stage-presence/
Fripp, P. (n.d.). Public Speaking — Make Sure Your Movement Supports Your Message. Retrieved August 17, 2017, from https://www.fripp.com/public-speaking-and-movement/
Karia, A. (2013, November 24). Humor in Public Speaking: 3 Tips on How to be Humorous. Retrieved August 17, 2017, from http://akashkaria.com/humor-in-public-speaking/
Smith, S. P. (n.d.). Eight Ways to Get More Applause. Retrieved August 17, 2017, from https://www.spsmagic.com/pages/eight-ways-to-get-more-applause