The New York Mets 50th Anniversary Conference required submissions of papers rather than abstracts or summaries. Still, I needed to immediately convey the uniqueness, power, and allure of Meet the Mets. Again, benign writing must be avoided.
Here are examples of benign writing in an opening:
“The Meet the Mets song has been the Mets theme song since the early 1960s. It’s imprinted on the memories of fans as evidenced by the singing of the song at every Mets home game at Citi Field.”
“Meet the Mets is a song that we learn as children and then pass along to the next generation of Mets fans.”
“The Mets have endured struggles and celebrated triumphs since their founding in 1962. But one constant remains. Meet the Mets.”
The writing is informative but not quite resonant. There’s nothing distinctive about these examples. In contrast, my opening two paragraphs struck a tone signifying the rightful place of Meet the Mets in the Mets legacy, describing the song’s genre, and conveying its emotional impact for Mets fans.
“Meet the Mets is more than a sonic icon for the New York Mets on par with other hallmarks of the team’s legacy, including Shea Stadium, Tom Seaver, Mr. Met, the miracle of ’69, “Ya gotta believe!” in ’73, and Mookie Wilson’s ground ball through Bill Buckner’s legs in ’86.
“It is a hallmark that attracts you with a title reflecting the power of alliteration, lyrics that infuse you with community, and a beat that immediately fills you with hope, whether you witness a Mets game on television, on radio, or at Citi Field. With a horn-filled fanfare reminiscent of a “Big Band” from the 1940s, Meet the Mets is a tradition that opens broadcasts, revs up the stadium crowd, and enjoys a place in American popular culture rarely experienced by a song with a sports premise, much less a baseball team’s theme song.”
The opening line is crucial. It sparks a curiosity in the reader. By comparing Meet the Mets to other Mets hallmarks, I reinforce its importance in Mets culture. By saying it’s “more than a sonic icon” equal to those hallmarks, I create an air of mystery that makes the reader want to read further.
The conference producers will also want to know how you will present the paper. Many speakers read their papers verbatim. 99 times out of 100, reading the paper verbatim will be ineffective. It does not engage the speaker to the audience. Use PowerPoint instead, but use it judiciously — no more than 8 lines on a slide interspersed with pictures and/or video where applicable.
Remember that a speaker’s job is to convey information in an engaging manner. Using the paper as a handout does not diminish its importance. In fact, the paper can be a promotional tool if the speaker’s name and web site are on the front page and/or headers of the other pages.
For my presentation on Meet the Mets, I also compared and contrasted several versions of the song — the traditional version from the 1960s, the updated 1980s version, and a version sung by Soupy Sales and his two sons — Hunt Sales and Tony Sales — on the mid-1960s television show Hullabaloo.