Thursday, April 29, 2010

The View from the Mountain

Stage fright is reduced a great deal when public speakers learn that their audience is not the adversary. That the performer’s responsibility is to take care of and nurture the audience. And that an audience is most comfortable when it’s treated as a unit, rather than as an assembly of individuals.

Why had it never occurred to me to say, as I did to a client on Friday, that focusing physically and mentally on the entire audience is more comfortable for the public speaker as well?

If you’re communicating with an audience as an entity, the actions of individuals become incidental, not distractions. The man in the front row who falls asleep, the man twelve rows back who is looking frantically through his program as though he’s wandered into the auditorium by mistake, a crying child, four young women on the left who are literally bent double laughing and the man on the right who’s not laughing.

All these become merely a part of the larger landscape. As if one is standing on a mountain and notices smoke rising from a chimney in the valley below, the shadow pattern on the next mountain, and the movement of the clouds above. Each of these form a part of the view from the mountain; no single of them need distract one from the panorama.

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