A couple of weeks ago, we gave you 3 tips on how to deal with the disappointment of an empty room and still get the handful of brave people present on board.
Today, thanks to the tips you read every Thursday, the game has changed: Since your first intervention, your project’s succes hasn’t stopped multiplying. Those first few fans that you were able to get on board have talked about your idea and you are now ready to realize your dream: a true Steve Jobs “keynote,” with an audience worthy of the name.
Except that, voilà, the big day has arrived and while you’re rehearsing quietly back stage, you see the room filling up. You may have dreamed of it, but you never anticipated so many people… Gripped by a feeling of panic, you once again make the right decision, and call you’re your favorite story-manager to the rescue. He gives you his 3 pro tips on how to deal with the “stress of a packed room”:
This first tip may seem trivial, but it is the first thing an anxious speaker forgets to do. Because indeed, at that particular moment, you are particularly stressed out, and the symptoms include, among others, an accelerated heart rate, difficulty in breathing, sweaty hands, trembling legs, dry mouth, etc. The only way to calm down is to resort to abdominal breathing. So, take a few minutes to breathe deeply and recharge, while waiting patiently for someone to call you. When your name is called, you will once again be treated to an adrenaline rush, which will try to unnerve you. The first reflex is usually to speak too quickly, which gives the impression that the speaker is holding his breath. Again, calm down. The stage is big, take advantage of the few steps that bring you before your audience to take 3 deep breaths before starting.
- START STRONG!
So, here you are on stage, in place. You have taken the time to breathe and you are ready to utter your first words. Though getting started is never easy, it’s important to be precise at this point; it will both reassure you and get your audience’s attention. Avoid the bla-bla and muddled “hellos.” On the other hand, choose a strong connection: engage your audience, tell an anecdote, propose an interaction. In short, quickly get to the heart of the matter. One tip is to know this start by heart, in order to make an impact right away. When you finish with your catchphrase, the effects of the adrenaline rush will have begun to wear off and you will have laid the foundation for a balanced relationship with your audience.
- TALK TO EACH PERSON
Facing a packed room, the reflex is to try to speak to everyone at once. Like you were taught in school, you sweep the room from left to right without ever catching one person’s eye. This tactic doesn’t fool anyone; the audience member can sense when the speaker is talking to him or when he’s pretending. Another absurd advice that we often hear is to imagine your audience is naked… But, we don’t create a rich and good-hearted relationship with an audience that we voluntarily seek to degrade in order to feel better about ourselves.
So, assume that to hold a full room, you will have to pretend that you have to hold an empty room. That is to say, the subject is not about speaking to everyone but speaking to each person, in order to create a real relationship with your audience. To do this, switch to conversation mode once again! Go and get your audience, ask them questions, generate interactions that will have the advantage of creating a climate where you will be more serene.
When it’s time to hang up, your story-manager says one last thing: “whether it’s a full room or an empty one, you never seem happy! If you think about it, it’s true that situations have their advantages and disadvantages and generate stress and frustrations. But, whatever the circumstance, take a step back and always come back to the basics: Be clear about your key message and the reason for your presence, and most importantly, take care of your audience. Come on, take a deep breath, it’s show time!”