Eliciting responses from the audience is a necessary action for almost any speech except for maybe the classic keynote type speech. Some audience members have deep bellowing voices that easily carry across the room, while others barely get above a whisper. Most people tend to fall somewhere in the middle.
In an effort to hear what a person is saying, most speakers will move very close to the person, ask them to speak up, and then repeat what they said to the rest of the audience. Three problems with this are…
- By moving close to just one person, you are ignoring the rest of the room and the tendency for others to start small chatter will increase..thus less people will be paying attention.
- Asking someone to speak up is fine, expect it has the same negative emotional anchor to it as using “shhh” to get a room to be quiet. It’s better to have them want to speak up, or quiet down, instead of you making them do so.
- Repeating what someone says to the rest of the room doesn’t do any good to get that person, or others, to speak louder next time, because you just trained that person, and the rest of the room, that you’ll do the hard work for them.
There’s a better way to do this and I call it Playing Opposites.
If someone in the right front of your room raises their hand and you call on them, instead of moving towards the person, move to the exact opposite side of the room as they start to talk. The person will naturally talk louder because you, as the authority in the room who just called on them, moved away and they want you to hear them. Since they are talking louder, you won’t have to repeat what they said to the rest of the group. Lastly, now you are engaging the whole room because you are on the opposite side of the audience.
Try it out next time you are eliciting a series of responses from a group. If done right, it’s a little like you are dancing with the group…but they don’t know it .
Like this one?