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Hold an Audience in the Palm of Your Hand

I attended a recent 2-day event put on by the well-known business coach, Fabienne Fredrickson. From the evening cocktail party prior to Day 1, which began (for attendees) at 8 a.m. and went until 9 p.m., through another full Day 2 that ran from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., it was all Fabienne, all the time. (Watch my video here.)

She took her speaker responsibilities very seriously, the biggest of which was keeping her audience of 200+ engaged and open to learning. As any workshop leader or professional speaker will tell you, this is a herculean task.

It is difficult for an audience, too, to sit quietly for hours on end and be fed information. No matter how high the quality–and it was — there is only so much the brain can absorb before the bottom gets antsy.

Still, the onus is on the speaker, the workshop leader, to keep things going and keep the audience awake.

Fabienne was masterful. Here are a few of the techniques she used:

  • Repeat after me: This is when the speaker tells the audience to turn to a neighbor and say XX, and the audience then says XX.
  • Call and response: “When I say X, you say Y!” The audience follows suit 2 or 3 times.
  • High-five: Self explanatory.
  • Stand up and move around: Fabienne’s technique was to play a bouncy dance song, loudly. People love to dance and it was a regular feature. If you don’t have music, you can tell people to stretch, or play a game, toss a ball, etc.
  • Rhythm: Though Fabienne appeared in every “scene” and played “the lead” in most, she did break it up with interviews, case studies and role practices. She also had work the audience needed to do, which served to give her several well-deserved breathers.
  • Confidence monitor: This is a monitor with slides and speaker notes that is placed strategically at the foot of a stage so a speaker can subtly glance down to stay on track and takes the place of hand held notes or having to turn to an on-stage screen.

Sure, I felt silly at times with all the “repeat after me’s.” I’m also not big on the whole dancing thing. For someone with my personality type, these of techniques can seem gimmicky. But I understood what Fabienne was doing and most of the people in there were enthusiastic participants. Truthfully, they’re so effective, I use them myself.

Of course, her nonverbal skills–gestures, body language, voice (all so expressive) indicated a great deal of comfort and happiness to be there. Fabienne’s brand is all about giving to her clients and loving them.

We all felt her love.

Copyright 2011 Ruth Sherman. All Rights Reserved.

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