What if Your Audience Does The Unexpected?
Imagine you’re giving an important presentation.
You’re feeling confident. The audience seems to be engaged.
The only sound in the room is the humming of the air conditioner.
How do you feel?
What do you do?
What do most people do?
What SHOULD you do?
Don’t let the audience take control of your emotions
What most presenters do in this situation is lose their train of thought. When they expect a specific response and don’t get it, they’re thrown off. Some lose their composure and never get back on track.
What should you do in this situation?
Be prepared for no response to your funniest lines.
The difference between speaking and comedy
There’s nothing better in speaking than getting a laugh from an audience. It creates an instant connection and opens them up to hear more of your message.
But don’t let that great feeling overshadow your purpose for speaking. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned about humor in speaking is that it’s different than humor in comedy.
When a comedian’s jokes don’t get laughs, they don’t get re-hired. And that means they don’t eat. Or, they become Uber drivers.
When a speaker tells a story that doesn’t get laughs, you….
….still made a serious point.
Reframe the response when audiences don’t laugh
My friend Kevin Burke is the star of ‘Defending the Caveman.’ It’s a one-man show in Las Vegas. He performs every night 50 weeks a year.
He once told me, “Michael, our audiences almost always laugh throughout the show. Every once in awhile, we get one that just doesn’t respond at all. No laughter. They just sit and stare. On those nights, we’re not a comedy show. We’re Las Vegas’s best drama!
This is a terrific attitude! Kevin understands that not every audience will be responsive. The same is true when you speak. Not everyone will laugh at your funny stories.
Why lack of laughter isn’t critical for a speech
It doesn’t matter because you’re not there to be a comedian. You’re there to make points that change the way they think, feel or act. The laughter is a bonus.
The next time you prepare a presentation, include funny stories. But, don’t allow the laughter that you receive in your practice sessions lull you into a false sense of security.
It’s OK to expect people to laugh every time. Just be prepared if they don’t. Don’t allow that silence after your funniest lines to impact you, or disrupt your thought process. Adjust, continue your talk and leave a lasting impression with the meaningful message you are there to give.
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