You’re about to lead a workshop or presentation. You want to begin, but your audience comes into the space full of energy, busy-busy chatting, walking around, chaotic. This is for you.
What I’m about to show you works for in-person, online, and zoom events.
The first thing I do is bang on my podium. Or desktop.
Most presenters are polite, and don’t like to make waves.
I’m not polite. I intentionally make waves.
If I want someone’s attention, I’ll do what it takes. Notice I didn’t say whatEVER it takes — there are limits to what I will do!
The point is to disrupt the pattern of the energy in the room.
That’s it. No more, no less. You want to interrupt the chaos and get their energy and attention moving towards yourself.
When you bang on the surface, everyone will stop what they’re doing, and turn to face you. “What’s this? Why is she making so much noise?”
Before they can go back to what they were doing, you raise your hands and arms and wave them in the air, clap your hands and wiggle around and celebrate, and shout, “This is IT!”
Because it IS ‘it’ — this is what they came for.
Don’t pussy foot it and try to be all smiley-nice-nice. Smile, yes, but not a sorry-for-making-a-ruckus smile. Smile a wide ain’t-we-got-fun grin.
Now you have all their attention.
Well, almost. There will pretty much always be a couple of people who are still yakking, holding their hands over their mouths and whispering like naughty kids in the back of the room.
So you loudly ask people to turn to a person close to them, and take 30 seconds for each of them to intentionally finish what they were saying, so they can be done with it, get present and BE in the room.
Hold your watch up, pointing to the face.
Say it again. “You have 30 seconds . . . “
They start yammering away. They might be complaining about how hard it was to get thru traffic today, or my kid wouldn’t put her damn shoes on, or my husband’s car had a flat and I had to take him to work . . . but they have to get it out in that 30-second window.
When that’s up, ring a bell or make the timer on your phone go off right into your mic, and call out, “OK! That’s it! Please check to see if you can be present in the room now!”
Most times, all of them are here and now.
Sometimes there are laggards. Give them 15 more seconds.
Ask everyone to be silent as the person takes 15 seconds more to finish. With everyone’s attention on them, it doesn’t take them even 15 seconds!
Hih hih hih . . . .
Once that’s done, you are all front and center, in the room, present.
Thank them for their participation. Always thank your audience for anything you ask them to do — it helps them feel appreciated and connected with you.
Next is the most important thing to do at this juncture between opening the space and starting to present.
You say to them, “Please sit with your butt to the back of your chair and put your feet flat on the ground.” Give them time to shuffle their butts back and get their feet situated.
Now you say, “Take a deep breath, as deep as you can get it. On the count of three: 1–2–3, breathe!”
They take a breath. You breathe right along with them, making sure they can hear it through your mic.
You can feel the energy of the room pick up!
Now say, “Thank you! Please take one more, this time breathing in through your nose. Feel the bottom of your belly expand, pushing out as you breathe in. Make the breath as deep as you can.”
Pause and hold the breath a few seconds. Then say, “Now let that breath out slowly through your mouth.” You all breathe together.
Once everyone has finished breathing out, invite them to be still, close their eyes, and feel the space.
By now, the room is crackling with vitality, because everyone’s energy is integrated as one. It will feel coherent and soft and energized and alive.
You have just woven the energy fields of all those people into a tapestry of vibrating souls who are alert and eager to hear what you have to say.
Now you can begin your presentation, and be fully assured that you can handle the energy!
Thanks so much for reading! I hope this helps you if you are a presenter of any kind. This works in live presentations, as well as online and on zoom.
When I lived in Hawaii in the 80s, I used to attend a weekly gathering in Honolulu for inspiration/networking business people, called the Winners Circle Breakfast Club, run by an amazing, dynamic gal named Pam Chambers.
Much of what I know about the tactics of presenting I learned from attending Winners Circle, watching Pam present, and absorbing as much as I could at her workshops. It set me up beautifully for the coaching programs I used to hold live, and hold now on zoom.
Pam wrote a brilliant Ebook called Life Is A Presentation — if you want to succeed at giving workshops and talks, you’d be really smart to get it.
She not only goes into the how-to’s of presenting, she also shows you how to deal with the un-fun stuff like hecklers, negative attitudes, know-it-alls, and event planners telling you you out of the blue that your time has been reduced from an hour to 15 minutes. Get the book!
You can get Life Is A Presentation at PamChambers.com.
(Nope, that’s not an affiliate link — Pam is a long-time good friend, and I promote her when I can.)
Get Your Audience Settled, whether Live or on Zoom
© Angela Treat Lyon 2023
Image: Happy Audience
© Angela Treat Lyon 2006
Art by Angela Treat Lyon