October 24, 2008

Let me hear you say "Yeah!"

The last thing I want to hear first thing in the morning is "Is everyone feeling great this morning? Let me here you say "Yeah!"

The last thing I want to do first thing in the morning is high five the person sitting next to me.

The last thing I want in an early morning presentation is to be artificially "motivated" by a speaker.

Yet time and time again, I attend presentations where the speaker feels compelled to force a loud and energetic opening on the audience at 8:00 a.m.

It's difficult to be an early-morning speaker. Most of your audience members are still working up to being social, especially the ones who rely on coffee or tea and are waiting for their caffeine to kick in. You probably won't get a lively response from them right away.

And, as Tom Antion mentions in this post, it's also not a great time of day to expect hearty laughter from your audience, so over-the-top humor might fall flat.

This doesn't mean that you shouldn't start off your presentation with audience involvement. If you normally ask questions, tell stories, have the audience meet their neighbor or some other activity, by all means don't leave it out.

But be sensitive to their early morning state. Understand that they need to ease into the day and the social setting. Don't ride them, yell at them, or expect them to jump up and down with enthusiasm.

And don't take it personally if they seem unresponsive right off the bat. Gentle humor and appreciation of their grogginess will get you farther than artificial stimulation. They'll eventually wake up and become more lively. Just don't force it.

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