Archive for April 25, 2010

Hecklers & Such

I’m sure you’ve seen comedy shows where someone in the audience has something to say that is meant to disrupt the comedian. Who would have ever thought it could happen to an ordinary every day business speaker?

Well, it does, and it happens more often than you might think. But when you learn to control the speaking environment, you can diminish their effect.

In truth, they are just looking for attention. They want the audience to look at them, recognize them for their wit. But what they are doing is creating the opposite effect. No one respects someone who is disruptive or one who strives to gain attention.

The first time I had a heckler was at a Lion’s Club. No matter what I said, this man had something to say about it. He would interrupt every chance he got.

I looked to the club President and other officers but no one said anything to help out. Finally I walked around the table and put my hand on his shoulder and said “I understand they don’t have a speaker next week, it will be your turn to speak then.”

I turned and walked back to the front of the room and after about 15 seconds of silence, everyone laughed. Needless to say, he had nothing else to offer the rest of my presentation. And when I was finished, several people came up to me and thanked me for putting him in his place. Apparently he always heckled the speaker.

The point being, you must take control of your audience and environment. No matter what you have to do, be in charge.

Professional vs. Public Speaking

It took me a long time to understand the difference between public and professional speaking. I showed up at a Toastmasters meeting hoping to get guidance and training so I would feel more confident in speaking to groups.

The first day I attended they asked me to speak about what travel might be like in the year 2000. I was terrified and spoke for five minutes about what space shuttle travel would be like to different planets.

The majority of the group, about 20, were fairly kind, recognizing how nervous I obviously was. But the other half counted how many “uh’s and ah’s” I mumbled,  how many pauses I took and criticized my content.

They did give me  a Toastmaster pin however.

It was embarrassing and more difficult than I could manage at the moment. I left agreeing to return, but knowing I never would.

Then a couple of years later I was invited to the National Speaker’s Association (NSA) in Burlingame. So many of the 85 attendees were proud to announce they were earning $2,500 – $5,000 for keynote speeches. When I asked several of them what they had done to attain that level of professional recognition, not a single one would reveal their secret.

There was a local group in Berkeley run by a member of my Elite Leads group and he asked me to attend as his guest. The group was based on education and sharing what experiences everyone had. I was very comfortable with the group and pleased to be a part of it. But sometime later he ended up moving across the street and asked me to take over. It was fine for awhile, but then it seemed as though everyone wanted to control the group in their own way.

So after a few of the Elite Leads asked if I would help them learn how to get speaking engagements I read an article by the IRS saying there are  entrepreneurs in every industry who earn an average of 40% more than others and when they surveyed the participants they found the reason boiled down to the ones who spoke in the business community were earning 40% more than those who don’t.

I began to create a program to teach entrepreneurs the business of speaking. I called it SpeakEasyTM and determined what would make the difference between all the other groups and what business owners would need to develop their speaking skills.