Although many of us dread it, most people at some point or another in their working life will be required to speak in front of a group.
For many of us this will be a seriously scary prospect. In fact, Glossophobia, or the fear of public speaking, is more widespread than you might expect. Even Prince Harry has admitted he harbours a fear of speaking publicly.
From small to large groups, this can be challenge to anyone. But how about some tips from comedians, the very people who deal with tough crowds every day?
Don’t Go to Pieces
Deborah Frances-White suggests when things aren’t going well, particularly if the topic is dull, that it’s important not to go to pieces. Don’t increase volume or try harder: simply stay calm and still and be authoritative and in control. This will hopefully allow your audience to relax and really start listening.
How to Deal with a Noisy Crowd
Luisa Omielan addressed dealing with a noisy audience. Don’t try to fight to be heard over the rest of the noise. Conversely, she suggests you lower your tone and speak to those people who are paying attention and listening. Eventually, the rest of the group will start to focus in and listen to find out what they are missing, but try not to take it personally if they don’t.
Give Them the Floor
Comedian Suzi Ruffell spoke about office Christmas parties. She said if someone stands up or shouts a criticism, sometimes the best way to take the wind out of their sails is to simply offer them the floor. Most will clam up.
Of course, for some events like this you might prefer to let a professional take over – you could use a site with comedians for hire such as https://thecomedyclub.co.uk/.
Be Prepared to Adapt
There may be times when there is a serious elephant in the room – perhaps the heating has failed and everyone is shivering in their coats or the subject is dull.
Shazia Mirza says confront it head on. If it’s cold, say it’s cold; if things aren’t going well, point this out and allow the room to laugh about it together. Know your material, but be prepared to adapt if required. And having visual props with you, like slides, can really help.