Speaking To An Audience That Doesn’t Laugh

A reader sent me an email:  “I gave a speech last night.  I’ve given this speech a few times and it never failed to get good laughs.  But last night the audience just sat there.  They laughed a little, but not much.  I’m not sure if it was the audience or if it was me!”

For starters, take a look at the Special Report #2:  When They Don’t Laugh!  It’s a 1300 word piece that will give you some ideas on how to handle laughter-challenged audiences; the techniques and a mind-set that will keep you on track.

I gave a talk about six months ago to a group I thought might be non-responsive.  When the introducer read my speaker introduction, there was absolutely no response to the two built-in laugh lines.  Whenever that happens my first thought is often, “This is not good.”  I immediately recalled a talk a two months earlier where the lines in my speaker introduction received very light laughter.  It affected the rhythm of my opening and it took me 20 minutes to get back on track and connect with the audience. 

I made a better choice this time.  Even though there was NO laughter response to the introduction, not even a titter, I assumed that it was just fine.  It was a signal to me that they might also not laugh at the humor lines in my talk.  It’s actually nice to know that in advance.  I made the assumption that it was a great audience that just enjoyed their humor in silence!  And I delivered it as though they were loving it.  Yes, the laughter was less than normal.  But the feedback after the talk proved to me that they loved it.  They were a terrific audience. 

When you find yourself in a similar situation, the primary thing you want to AVOID DOING is to begin the autopsy of your talk WHILE you are giving it!  That’s a sure way to guarantee your speech WILL die.  Analyze later…after the speech is over.  During the speech…be totally present, perform and connect.  Even if the feedback isn’t what you expected.  Assume that they are loving the talk and that will help you maintain your energy, passion and enthusiasm.