They’re Just Not That Into You

My friend Stefanie (pictured above) sent this text after she’d wrapped up a session that she didn’t go smoothly.

It’s a good question, one you’re likely to ask if you talk in front of people regularly.

I had a hunch about the lack of energy but needed more details. I called and asked about what happened.

Here’s what she told me;

(paraphrased)

She was invited to join in for lunch and, to be polite, she’d spent her time before talking, choking down dry chicken and trying to make small talk.

Before her introduction, the event coordinator said to the audience “let’s do better than we did last time.”

She started talking and felt low energy, kept going despite it and finished the talk. Without the type of participation and excitement that she’s used to.

She asked what I thought happened with the audience.

I said.  ” I don’t think the problem was the audience…I think the problem was you.”

(this is why I didn’t text my response)

I went on.

Your energy was low. The audience responds to you. Several things happened before you spoke that likely drained you.”

She agreed.

We, as speakers and presenters are responsible for the energy in the room.  It’s hard to get an audience to feel something we’re struggling to feel ourselves.

It doesn’t mean audiences don’t get antsy, check their phones, or occasionally nod off. It happens.  However, in general, if you’re feeling and expressing the emotions you want the audience to feel, they’ll feel it with you.

Here’s what I told Stefanie to do next time;

  • Just Say No

You have my permission.  Your job as a speaker is to bring your best to your audience. If sitting through lunches making small talk or doing meet and greets saps your energy, avoid them before you talk.

  • Take Control of the Mood

If something awkward happens before your talk, a bumbled intro, awkward walk to the stage or unexpected comment from the speaker before you, take a moment to reset the mood in the room. Use what’s natural to you, humor, a high energy start (LET’S GO!) or a provocative question will help make the shift quickly.

  • Change Things Up

If you’re in the middle of your talk and you’re sensing an energy drop, change things up.   You can and should change the order of your talk/activities if you and the audience aren’t in sync.  Stop and ask for audience input, thoughts on a key point.  Take a stretch break. Do something unexpected (rock, paper, scissors anyone?) or take a good long pause (one of the most underrated speaking tools).

Being aware of and controlling your energy is vital to the success of your talk.  By staying in control, you’ll bring the best version of you to your audience.

 

PS

Stefanie is an extraordinary speaker and executive coach as well as being and a good sport for allowing me to use her story. Check out her website here and follow her on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/stefkrievins/  

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