Public speaking can be a terrifying experience for some. Fight through the fear, and one reward is the love you receive from your audience. You might speak in a small venue, say, a presentation to senior management, a mid-sized venue such as a town meeting, or an even larger venue addressing an auditorium full of people.
“Hey, you did a great job.”
That’s nice feedback. You organized your thoughts in a logical manner. You delivered them with confidence. Your tone of voice and body language all spoke to the audience. You created an emotional connection. Afterward, people, strangers even, came up to share the love. “Great job,” they all say. And you feel great.
But this thing called “love” is such a powerful emotion. The desire to feel the love may backfire during your presentation. The problem lies in the numbers. Let’s face it. Not everyone is going to love you. They might. But it’s not likely. Someone might not because your talk falls between him and a day off. Or you remind someone else in the audience of an ex-boyfriend. Or girlfriend. Or that ineffable thing called ”chemistry” just isn’t working for that person in the third-row aisle seat.
When you notice that someone is not showing you the love—it can distract. Consequently, instead of paying attention to the many in your audience who are already engaged and busy asking questions, you change your direction and energy and pay attention to the lone few who aren’t. Maybe even one who disagrees with you. You can get off track.
Rule of thumb: Do not argue or confront the person missing your point.
You can acknowledge their point, and redirect. You may even ask if anyone in the audience can help address their question, if you can’t.
During a recent workshop, “Brace for Impact: Effective Business Communications,” I was in the process of making the point that all jobs—even the most mundane—have a creative potential. I was going to tie this point to why we should avoid clichés in writing and speech.
I looked at one person toward the front of the room and asked her if there was a creative element to her work. In a heart-stopping, no-love-to-share moment, she announced, no.
“My job is boring,” said she.
I wanted her on my side. I wanted her to love me; but she was only one of many—many, by the way, who seemed to be interested in where I was going with the point. My best immediate response was to acknowledge her position, and return attention to the larger group. I told her:
Although some jobs may be predictable, your communications do not need to be. In fact, when you find a new way to describe an issue, you may stand a better chance at having others pay attention. Just as in a relationship, where two people are so used to each other that they already think they know what each will say; they stop listening. It’s true at home, and it’s true on the job. Avoid the cliché. Say it in a new way.
And the workshop continued from that point, which allowed my recalcitrant audience member to save face, and for me to maintain momentum with the larger group.
We all want to feel the love. But sometimes it’s just not going to come from all directions. When that happens, you needn’t lose your own.