I’m at a mischievous stage. Having done many hundred if not a thousand live presentations, I kinda wanna mess with my Audience. Especially if they’re not paying attention.
Practically speaking, I use my “10/80/10 rule” with Audiences:
- 10% will love everything I do
- 10% aren’t even in the room
- 80% are open to learning something
This approach is beneficial because it helps me focus my energy. I basically throw out the high and the low and look to the 80% where I’ll most likely have impact.
The 10% who love my stuff are nice and smiley and good participants so I get some energy there but generally there will be little movement with them. The 10% who aren’t in the room have something pressing that they’ve got to think about right now so their bodies are there but their minds aren’t.
It’s this distracted group that the competitive part of me wants to take on, to win over. But it’s risky as my energy doing so may not be in sync with my content. In a live presentation, I may be talking about a certain thing and decide, for example, to move close to one of the non-respondents, bringing my Actor spotlight with me. It shines on them as I move closer to them, and potentially puts them on stage with me. The strategy makes them engage, whether they want to or not.
However, did trying to engage this person help me stay on message? I’d like to think I’m good enough to do whatever I want and still be on point, but there lies caution.
I could just call on the person to get their perspective, but their response, or lack thereof may not be beneficial to the 80. In fact it could introduce energy detrimental to the Atmosphere and draw down the rest of the group. So I tend to leave them alone, focus on the 80 and hope that something discussed will help the distracted in some way.
As in so many facets of Audience interaction, us Actors (authentic communicators who dynamically move people to Action) have a choice to make and it often happens on the fly, right at that moment, in front of our Audience. That’s the wonderful thing about the live gig—stuff can happen as discovery which makes it and us fresh and responsive, every time.
To be in a state of discovery with our Audience is the ultimate place to be as Actors. We can only realize this dynamic if our content is solid, like a great musician who can freely improvise due to strong musical structure and hours of rehearsal. Solid, practiced content brings freedom—freedom to really interact with those who can benefit from what we have to say. Or enjoy the riff we play.
Choosing your battles has always been a key strategy in any engagement with Audience. With strong content and the 10/80/10 rule, you are well positioned to engage effectively, make the most of your message and play with confidence.
Your stage. Your performance. You’re on!