How to Deal with a Bored Audience
I was once doing this interview and the interviewer asked:
‘Do you adopt an alter ego when you get on stage?’
This was a brilliant question.
Because I know plenty of public speakers who do adopt an alter ego on the stage.
This is known as the Batman Effect.
When we adopt an alter ego to tackle practical situations.
My answer was ‘no’ though.
I don’t adopt an alter ego on stage.
However, I told the interviewer that I believe you should magnify your personality.
Whatever personality you normally have, times it by 1.5.
The reason why is because you are projecting yourself to an audience.
A lot of information will get lost if you are your usual self.
When you amp up your energy by 1.5, that will help tremendously.
The 1.5x technique will help you deal with a bored audience.
Resting Bored Face
There was this one time that I was giving a speech at a graduation event.
This was a very specific graduation event.
There was this shy Indian boy who struggled with confidence.
Let’s call him Kenan for the sake of the story.
His parents enrolled him in this public speaking boot camp to build his confidence.
The boot camp was for 7 weeks.
After 7 weeks, he was a changed boy.
He was ready for graduation.
The boot camp instructor asked me to speak at Kenan’s graduation.
I created a speech called the “Blurry Vision.”
This speech was going to talk about how a vision starts off blurry but gets clearer the more you work on it.
I thought I was going to move the audience.
And I was sort of right.
Most of the audience seemed very engaged by my words.
But Kenan looked so bored.
He had this depressed-looking face, was yawning every now and then, and slouching.
Seeing his visible boredom rattled me.
I didn’t deliver the speech to the best of my abilities.
I let one boy shoot down my enthusiasm.
What A Bored Audience Can Do to A Speaker’s Psyche
Notice something from my story…
It’s not like the entire audience was bored.
It was only ONE member who was bored.
Didn’t matter though.
It still rattled me.
The audience has a tremendous impact on a speaker’s psyche.
When the audience is disengaged and looking bored, it has the ability to ruin the speaker’s enthusiasm.
This is when a toxic loop begins:
- The bored audience affects the speaker’s enthusiasm.
- The speaker delivers the speech in a flat way.
- The flat speech further bores the audience.
And on we go…
Break the Toxic Loop!
First, understand that the audience does not owe you anything.
When you realize they don’t owe you anything, this makes you feel bolder.
You as the speaker realize that you need to bring the vibe.
Even if they are bored, that’s not going to hurt your mood.
Have you ever had a moment when the party was not lit like you were expecting?
But you still had fun.
This past week at work was brutal.
So, you weren’t going to let the bored party members get you down.
You would bring the enthusiasm if needed.
There’s no way you were leaving the party without having fun.
That’s what public speaking is about.
You need to be able to bring the vibe at will.
With that attitude, now we want to further expand on the 1.5x rule.
Amplifying Our Personality
Try this exercise when you have a chance.
Get a camera and record a short talk.
Watch yourself back.
You’ll notice something.
When you were delivering the talk, it felt high energy.
However, when you are watching the talk back, it feels low energy.
The reason why is because of the “personality drop-off rate.”
When you record yourself, you are being converted into digital bits.
In that conversion process, a lot of your charm drops off as well.
To fight this, we need to amp it when recording.
This forces you to align your mind/breath/body.
No wasted space!
The personality drop-off rate also applies to public speaking.
The bigger the audience, the more chance of your personality dropping off.
Therefore, you need to make yourself bigger.
Envision what it’s like to 1.5x your personality.
You’ll automatically feel a little bigger.
It’s sort of like if you are 5’4 and I tell you to walk like you are 6’4.
Automatically, your posture will straighten.
When you give the command to 1.5x your personality, you become bigger.
A bored audience won’t phase you.
Heck, a bored audience will turn less bored near you.
Give The Same Speech In 3 Different Ways
Create a speech about whatever.
Now imagine giving the speech in front of:
- 3 people.
- 30 people
- 300 people.
If you have the budget, you can get a projector and pull an image of 3, 30, and 300 people.
You’ll notice how your speech delivery changes as you deliver to the different audience sizes.
Simply noticing how your speech delivery changes allows you to know that you can control your personality at will.
When an audience of 3 is really bored, pretend like you’re actually delivering this speech to an audience of 30.
Suddenly, there will be conviction behind your words.
That conviction will reel the audience back in.
People Lead Boring Lives
The audience is not just a blob.
The audience is a group of individuals who are sitting in a similar location.
These are individuals who live mundane lives like many people out there.
- They are worrying about their bills.
- Being plagued by a sad moment from 8 years ago.
- Dreading the upcoming work week.
Don’t take it personally when they are bored.
Instead, view it as a challenge.
Your goal as the speaker is to amp up your personality and influence other personalities.
If you can control your emotions as well as other people’s emotions, then you’ll be happy for the bored audience.
They pushed you to limits that you never knew existed.