The Everything Public Speaking Book: Delivering a Winning Presentation Every Time!

By Scott S. Smith | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER 7
Managing the Audience
Some audiences are easier than others. People may be falling asleep after a meal or too raucous after cocktails. Others might appear bored to death or do not laugh at your jokes. There might even be a heckler, someone who challenges statements and will not wait for the end of the lecture to get answers. On the other hand, everything could go smoothly during the presentation, but you undercut a positive impression by a poorly handled question-and-answer session. Preparation can help you manage these situations.
Get the Audience to Pay Attention
If you are speaking right after lunch or dinner, members of the audience may be a little sleepy because a big meal requires a lot of the body's energy to digest. Late in any all-day seminar, you are probably going to experience audience fatigue: their brains are overflowing with information and it is hard to make room for more. You cannot really change your presentation, except to make it a little crisper by deleting a few details and adding some extra energy. To revive the group before you start, try this approach:
Acknowledge the challenge of staying interested at that time of day.
Have everyone stand up and do deep breathing exercises.
Have a few witty lines ready to get them laughing (“I apologize for waking any of you up before your nap was over …”).

-73-

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