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With this year being a Presidential election year here in the United States, more and more people are following the issues and the political process which I think is a good thing. But as a result of this, many people are sharing their thoughts and opinions on particular issues which is within their right as far as I’m concerned. The big question is whether or not it’s the smart thing to do.
Last night during President Obama’s speech, Representative Joe Wilson from South Carolina shouted “You lie!” in the middle of it. When I first heard about it, I kind of laughed to myself as I thought about how other countries have more spirited debates during these types of speeches. But then I thought a bit more about it and I felt that Rep. Wilson was, politics aside, both unprofessional and disrespectful. As I read the reactions later today, I started to believe that it was a bad idea for him to do that because his actions made him and his party look bad, and gave the other side ammunition and motivation that could change the momentum of the debate. But then as I sat down to write about it, I realized that Rep. Wilson’s outburst could only be described with one word: Brilliant.
I’ll never forget my first Toastmasters meeting back in 2002. There were three fantastic speeches followed by my favorite part of the meeting – Table Topics. If you’re not familiar with Table Topics, it’s the part of the meeting where folks are welcomed to come up and speak “off the cuff” about the topic of the day. I participated and lasted 47 seconds. And, thanks to the person in the “Ah Counter” role, I found out that I had some filler words. At first, I found that role to be very cool and useful, but there’s two reasons why I question whether or not it’s needed – or even helpful.
Throughout the last six years, I’ve heard at least a dozen folks who are good speakers tell other people that they should never open their speech with “Thanks, it’s nice to be here” or some other cordial greeting. I’ve asked many of these folks why they feel so strongly about it and have yet to receive what I consider a satisfactory answer – a giveaway that I might have a myth on my hands.
Here are some of the answers I’ve received when asking why this is so bad:
- It weakens your speech.
- It bores the audience.
I was just in the car a few minutes ago and saw something which I feel is a bad trend – a vehicle used to advertise the owner’s small business that also had political bumper stickers on it (at least one of which that was somewhat harsh). It caught my eye because one would think that the owner would have enough common sense to not do this because not only is it unprofessional but it’s just plain stupid.
I once heard that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result. Well I’d like to add a second definition: trying to please everyone. Trying to make everyone in a group happy ranges from difficult to impossible and the only guarantee you have is that you’ll wish you never tried.
This topic comes up frequently in both my public speaking and networking classes as people are concerned about what others think. I think we all have a natural tendency to focus on the audience members that aren’t paying attention to us during a speech or the folks at a networking event that say “it was nice to meet you – I see a client on the other side of the room” immediately after you introduce yourself.
Of all the different types of hostile audiences out there, the disinterested or uninterested crowd can be one of the toughest to address. There are a number of reasons that your audience can fall into this category, such us being forced to attend the event, so we’ll look at what causes an audience to be disinterested and what you can do to bring them around.
What causes a disinterested audience:
A number of things can cause an audience to be soured about your presentation even before you reach the podium. They range from personal prejudices to attitudes related to the event itself. Here are some common reasons:
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Please take a look at my latest e-book, "The Ultimate Guide to Effective Theme Meetings." This 62 page e-book contains tips as well as 10 ready to use theme meeting kits. Each kit contains everything from the invitation to planning the food & decor to enough table topics for up to 30 participants. And if you act fast, you can get it while it's still on sale.
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