I just read a GREAT blog post by the wickedly funny motivational speaker Brad Montgomery on the Worst Audience for a Motivational Speaker. He was so forthcoming with some of his experiences that it made me want to share one of mine. And it was, indeed, a nightmare.
I was hired to be the closing funny motivational speaker for a company's annual event to be held in Cancun. It goes without saying that I was extremely HAPPY when they called me for this job. But before I could get my bathing suit packed and lose 10 pounds, the meeting planner told me that I was to be the after dinner speaker. Aw geez. I HATED hearing that. After dinner is a horrible time to speak since people are tired and have had a glass of wine or two. But then again, it's Cancun. So I say yes - ignoring the little voice in the back of my head yelling, "No! Don't do it! You'll be sorry!"
First lesson in all this: Listen to your danged little voice.
Saturday, the closing day of the event arrives and here's the picture: Four hundred attendees have been in training/breakout sessions for 2 days. They are tired and ready to part-A! They finish their last morning session at noon and head to the beach.
Oh, did I forget to mention that this is an "all-inclusive" resort? Meaning every single drink that anyone wants is free. F.RE.E. free.
They spend 6 hours drinking and baking on the beach before they have to go back to their hotel rooms and change into their favorite movie character costumes for dinner. Oh no. I am not kidding. Movie character costumes.
They have cocktails at 7:00 p.m. Oh right, like they NEED more liquor. They have dinner around 8 p.m and then I was SUPPOSED to go on at 9:00 p.m. But noooooooo. They don't call me up until 10:00 p.m. TEN FLIPPIN' PM!
Oh, and get this - besides having a large stage in the front of the ballroom for me, they ALSO had a second HUGE round stage in the MIDDLE of the room for the band who was going to play when I finished. So not only am I the only thing standing between the audience and their wild and crazy dancing party - but the band stage blocks the entire back half of the ballroom off! In other words HALF the people there couldn't SEE me! And I couldn't see them! Oh but I could hear them, alright. They were laughing and screaming really loudly. Not at my hysterically funny stuff, I should mention. Rather at whatever craziness was going on back there.
Then again, I wish the people in the front of the ballroom had been blocked off too. Can you imagine how nightmarish it was to look down at the front few tables and see Jaba the Hutt putting the moves on a sunburned, big boobied Marilyn Monroe? Or hear the burp contest going on between Forrest Gump and Roger Rabbit? At least Harry Potter was quiet. Or stoned. Or asleep. Not too sure.
I will spare you the horrid details of my talk. Suffice it to say that I cut my one hour talk down to twenty minutes (which still felt like 3 days.) When I finished I resisted the urge to run off stage, grab a dinner fork and poke my eyes out. I simply said "thank you" (to whom I have NO idea) and walked straight off stage and out a side door into an empty storage room. I dropped to the floor, ripped my hideously uncomfortable shoes off, and alternately laughed, cried and thanked God I was done.
Maybe the moral of this story is this: Everyone gets an unruly audience occasionally. People who, for whatever reason, don't get us, don't like us, or are just too drunk to do anything but drool. We can let them define us - or we can choose to find the lessons AND the humor in the experience and move on. AND, we can do what Brad Montgomery did, we can SHARE our experiences with others so they know they are not alone.
So how about you? Got a good nightmare you'd like to share?
To book Linda as the motivational keynote speaker at your next conference (preferably not after dinner) contact her at 941-927-4700.
About the Author
Linda Larsen, CSP, CPAE is a Hall of Fame Speaker, professional actress, best-selling author and serious lover of doggies. Linda speaks at conferences and meetings around the world, helping people bring the very best version of themselves to life every day! To talk to Linda about how she can contribute to the success of your next event, call 941-927-4700. Or go to Book Linda Now!