Get "Em on Stage
The art of public speaking, or good public speaking, uses attention
Here is one that works every time: Virtually every speaking
presentation I do, I find some excuse to get someone on stage with me.
An important technique in the art of public speaking, is when you can
get an audience member on stage with you, the rest of the audience is
glued to the action for the following reasons:
1. They want to see what is going to happen to one of their own.
2. They are priming themselves to be up there.
3. They are worrying to death that they may be asked to be up there.
Reasons 1 and 2 are good and reason 3 is not so good. For 1 and 2 the
mindset of the observing audience member is that, "I want to watch to
see what my colleague or other audience member will do when they are on
No matter how exciting you are as a presenter, you cannot compete with
the excitement generated by someone who is on stage who is not
"supposed" to be on stage. In the art of public speaking you generate
the excitement on stage and in the audience.
The other mindset is, "I BETTER watch what is going on in case I am
asked to go up there." This mindset is good too, because it forces the
audience member to actually think about the point you are trying to
make. In the art of public speaking your job is to focus the audience
on thinking about what you are saying.
For number 3, you want to keep shy or sensitive audience members from
withdrawing from your program altogether because of the fear that they
may be asked to stand up in front of everyone. The art of public
speaking includes being sensitive to the needs of all the members of
your audience. This chance of audience withdrawal is easily eliminated
by the following statement:
In a moment I'm going to ask for some / a volunteer to come on stage
with me. Don't worry. No one will have to come up if they don't want to.
If you have a high percentage of shy audience members, you will almost
feel the breeze as they breath a sigh of relief. Make sure you say it
before they turn blue and pass out.
Now we will take a look at what things you can do with them once you
get them on stage. According to a study done at the University of
Wichita, public recognition is one of the top motivators of people. If
you claim to be a "motivational" public speaker of some sort, it might
be a good idea for you to use your highly public profile while you are
speaking to give out public recognition. I find out the good things
that particular audience members have done during my extensive
Here are some ways to use the information you learn:
Recognize a single audience member for a particular achievement, or for
a period of high performance.
Recognize a group of audience members for a particular achievement, or
period of high performance.
While they are on-stage make a custom visual highlighting their
achievement, or performance (If you use an overhead you can give it to
the audience member or team after you show it. Do not forget to include
your company name at the bottom of the visual. Many times these will be
hung on the wall in the organization which will give you free
Another reason to get an audience member or group on stage is for some
sort of demonstration. I do one where I'm demonstrating personal space
across cultures. The person helping me gets a good laugh from the
audience as we interact.
Try to have pre planned adlibs ready to go for many of the comments or
questions you anticipate from the people on stage. You can also have
someone on stage to assist you in writing on the flip chart, changing
overheads, or to blow a horn when someone in the audience asks a good
question. Use your imagination.
Whenever, someone is up there to assist you, make sure you give them
some kind of prize. One of your products is usually good because it
gives you a chance to mention it without using a hard sell. And just
about always lead the audience in a round of applause for the helper as
they return to their seat.