Have you ever had to give a presentation in front of a really small audience? What thoughts went through your head? Were you disappointed? Did you give the performance like there was 1,000 people there?
Craig Valentine and I did our first 2-day Champ Camp in Dallas for three people. We lost money, but those three people walked away completely transformed. We were inspired because we knew we had something amazing to offer. We knew we just had to learn to market better.
Not long ago, I did an event just before a District Conference to help promote Toastmasters at their local college. They had told me about all the newspaper ads and promotion they had done, so I was expecting a packed house. The photo above was taken during this event.
This photo was not staged. If you would’ve asked any of those people how I performed, they’d say they were totally blown away. It was not my job to promote that event. It was my job to serve the souls in front of me.
If you dream about having a big audience… great! But if you’re bummed-out about the small audience in front of you, I have two things to say:
A. You are not alone.
B. STOP THAT!
We are privileged to have people sit and listen to us. We get to be speakers. I can’t say I’m perfect and haven’t “mailed in a performance” (or just went through the motions) on occasion. How dare I? That’s why I now ask myself four questions that help keep me present right before I begin speaking.
Sometimes, the audience may be small, and the setting may stink, but the people who are in front of you had nothing to do with that. They may never see you again, but they may need your inspiration. That’s something they won’t get if you’re not totally in-the-moment for them. If we are truly professionals (or pros-in-the-making), every person counts… and every performance counts. The audience is counting on us.
If you don’t have a passion for speaking to a small audience,
why should you ever get the privilege of a huge audience?
In the comedy world, we had to prove ourselves in the “B” rooms before we would get the privilege of the big comedy clubs on weekends. Long before I got audiences of 1,000 people – or even 200 – I was performing comedy in the back of a bar, competing with the TV for the audience’s attention. I’m not alone. That’s the road most speakers and performers take to get to the big audiences. Not long before Terry Fator won America’s Got Talent, he gave a performance at a community fair to ONE person in a 1,000-seat theater!
Some people think that once you “make it,” you never have to do small audiences again. What, are they crazy?! I got to speak to a small association last week for 32 people in Vegas. I got no fee… and I was sick… but the audience didn’t know that. I gave them all the energy I had. It was a privilege.
I asked Vegas Headliner, Terry Fator, about his commitment to perfection in his performances and where it came from. His answer was fascinating! For a while, he was performing in a band and he got to a point where going to work was absolute drudgery. Then he saw an old movie, The Jolson Story (1946).
Terry said, “One of the things that struck me was the sheer joy he took in performing. He would get up and perform for 4 hours and then go to a party and perform more.”
It gave him a new perspective. He thought he was going to be performing for 50,000 people. He said, “Hey, maybe I’m only in a bar and there are only 45 people there, but I get to perform. I caught that joy from Al Jolson, and never dreaded again.”
If you don’t have a passion for speaking to a small audience, why should you ever get the privilege of a huge audience?
2001 World Champion of Public Speaking
This Week’s Video Clip:
Why every speaker should have a coach…
comments from a CEO:
P.S. Early Bird Special Pricing ends on October 31st for the Humor Boot Camp… so if you’re even thinking about it, be sure to register by Oct 31 to save! You can bring a friend for free!
P.P.S. Here is an interesting article about humor… CLICK!