Audience Participation

As a speaker you should always keep in the back of your mind: What’s my audience going to take home from this speech? What will they remember?

Both speaker and audience have a certain role to play. The speaker needs to engage the audience, the audience needs to give feedback. Nothing worse for a speaker than getting a bunch of blank stares!

Sometimes you can push the limits on how much feedback you want from an audience and go for full audience participation.

Bobby McFerrin, the jazz-vocalist and conductor most famous for the hit-song “Don’t Worry Be Happy”, shows in this clip how an audience not only gets engaged, but actually anticipates the next move and the startlingly fun response it creates.

Bobby doesn’t say a lot and the way he starts the sequence is very telling. The audience ‘gets’ immediately what he wants. Once Bobby realizes the audience understands his instructions he ups the ante by adding more layers of difficulty to finally have the audience work out for itself what the next move should be. It’s a very entertaining piece of communication. And better yet: because of the participation the audience will remember it forever.



About Case

Managing Director at Black Isle Group Asia, helping executives stand out when they speak.
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