Since public speakers are called to consideration and politeness, let me restate the headline appropriately, Please stop begging, badgering, whining to, and complaining about your audience.
Driven by this issue for years, let me elaborate. Speakers, public and private, take the floor to deliver their presentation. Then, the fairly expected happens: the audience loses focus, the room gets loud, people fall asleep, hecklers stand up, and things potentially unravel for a variety of reasons. The speaker feels challenged, disrespected, or even violated. The speaker then responds in kind.
At an industry event not too long ago, I remember the emcee literally screaming at the top of his voice because folks in the room had gotten fidgety and were talking, no longer paying attention to him. He basically threw a temper tantrum yelling and scolding the attendees. All this so that he could play a motivational video clip that he was in love with. The video was good but after it played I could see the embarrassment & regret on his face for treating his audience so harshly. It appeared that he had a bad day and was taking his frustrations out on his clients.
With the political season in full swing, let me use one more example that I hope brings the point home. Irrespective of your party affiliation, there was one candidate who, in my view, committed public speaking, and as a result, political suicide. I recognized it immediately, noting the fatal error right away. Do you remember the moment? Here goes… One of leading political candidates, signaled the end of his candidacy, perhaps even the end of his political career, when he uttered these two words to a listless audience.
Having been there, I totally get it. But this is when seasoned presenters, experienced public speakers, and effective motivators separate themselves.
See, speakers should never beg, whine to, complain about, or badger their audience. Moving, inspiring, or getting the desired result from your audience is your job not theirs. Instead of needlessly criticizing an audience, look at your own tactics/methods! You were honored by being given the stage. Use it responsibly.
Here are a few basic tips that can help you avoid this pitfall:
- You’ll have undivided attention for at least two minutes so make sure you keep it
- Be prepared to the point that spontaneity can come naturally and you can go with the flow of your presentation, likewise the rhythm of the audience
- Involve your audience. It will be difficult for them to be idle if they are participating
- Use fun, non-threatening, light tactics to reengage your audience in the event that they do stray. For example, when I do talks about my health product, I sometime throw a plastic bag filled with all the medications I no longer take high into the air. When it hits the ground if sounds like a sonic boom, getting everyone’s attention and often a gasp or laugh.
- Assume the persona of the aura you want to project. Be grateful, fun, respectful, funny, and attentive… They’ll be the same for you…
Your Presentation Coach,