Thus continues the Special Report, "The Diva’s 7 Secrets to Speaking or Performing With Confidence, Ease and Charisma." One more Secret to go after this one!
Allow Your Audience to Be Who They Are
Doesn’t it feel great to know that you have full permission to just be who you are when you’re speaking or performing? Well, it will feel even better when you give your audience full permission to just be who they are, too.
This means that if your audience is bored, tired, or disinterested, that’s okay with you! If they are crazy with enthusiasm, well, all right! That’s okay, too.
You don’t have to control your audience. You don’t have to take care of them. Unless you’re performing for a group of infants, chances are they can all take care of themselves. Allow your audience to be as they are. They may very well be tired. That’s okay. They may want to be somewhere else. That’s okay, too. Don’t take it personally. They are just being who they are in that moment.
I have a friend who is wonderful professor of psychology at a college. She loves teaching. She loves interacting with her students during class and they love her as well. Recently she told me that she can be having a great time presenting something to her students, but if there is one student in back who is falling asleep, she feels compelled to grab his attention and make him to join the party.
“Why?” I asked her. “Why are you focusing so much energy and attention on the ONE student who could care less when you have a whole room full of students who are hungry to hear what you have to say? Stay where the party is. Let that student sleep it off. Leave him be and stay connected with those students who are available to connect with you.”
I would tell you the same thing. If half of your audience seems to be falling asleep, stay available and receptive to the half that is paying attention. Allow yourself to be with those who are available for connection rather than wasting your attention on those who would rather be someplace else.
There will always be times when what you have to say is of no interest to a percentage of your audience. Can that be okay with you? Can it be okay that they could care less?
The good news is that there is always someone in your audience who is available for connection. Even if you are speaking to a room full of attention-deficit-disorder teenagers. There is always at least one person who will be available to connect with you.
The hidden secret within this Secret is that if you are truly allowing yourself to be available to your audience as described in Secret #5 rather than trying to grab their attention or wow them with your charm, chances are that your audience will lean in to connect with you. They will feel your availability and they will be drawn towards it. Even if they aren’t interested in what you are saying, they will be interested in you.
Isn’t this a relief to know that you don’t have to make your audience respond to you or even be interested? You can allow them to just be who they are while you stay connected to your purpose and connected to those who are available for connection. When you give up trying to control your audience, you create an environment where real connection can take place AND you are free to focus your attention on just being present, real and receptive.
I once was speaking at a dinner meeting where the audience was totally absorbed in their dinner. Most everyone was looking at their plates as I began my presentation and I wasn’t sure if anyone really cared about what I was saying or not. So I asked them, “You know, you all seem to really be enjoying your dinner. Do you want to talk about speaking with confidence, or would you rather I talk about something else? How about American Idol. Would you all like to talk about American Idol instead?”
In that instant, the audience perked up and became engaged with what was happening. They all told me that they really wanted me to continue so I did, but I was totally willing to drop my agenda and talk about Reality TV. They sensed that willingness and my availability, and they decided to join me.
This relates to what I mentioned in Secret #1. Just because you don’t give a rip about what your audience is thinking doesn’t mean you don’t care about them. In this instance, I didn’t care what they thought of me, but I did care about them and their experience. I let go of my need to impress them with all that I knew and instead I went with what I was receiving from them. I dropped my agenda and went for connection over content, and the only way to do that was to allow them to be totally disinterested in me and what I had to offer.
So, if you feel your audience is distracted, bored or otherwise not interested, speak to it. Say something. Like, “Hey, are you guys interested in this or would you rather just wrap it up and go home?” The trick with this is you have to be completely sincere rather than flip or accusatory. If you are genuinely in a state of acceptance and allowing, not attached to whether they are interested or not, then you can say something like this and it won’t feel confronting and controlling.
Allow your audience to be who they are. Be interested in them as they are, not as you need them to be. Let go of any need to make them pay attention and be interested in your every word. Stay connected to yourself and your own energy while you allow your audience to be as they are. Be available to those are available to you and you will be ready to thoroughly enjoy Secret #7!