I was speaking to a large group of people.
About six rows back–dead center– were two of the most annoying types of people a speaker can face. The first was a man with a distractingly bald, shiny head, who looked like he’d rather be anywhere but here. The second was a young guy, frantically texting on his blackberry.
In my mind, for just a split second, I allowed myself to throttle them with my bare hands. After that brief mental lapse, I moved on. I focused on some nice people that I had met before my speech and I killed it! (Even if I do say so myself!)
BUT when I was done, I wasn’t sure that the crowd appreciated my efforts. Why? This was a long luncheon. I was up last and many people left the second I started taking questions.
I called up my friend after I was done and said, “I know I was great, but I just didn’t receive the response that I expected.”
She said, “You always say something like that and then you wind up getting a ton of business out of it. Isn’t that the greatest response you could hope for?”
“You’re right,” I said.
By the time I hung up the phone, half a dozen people had tweeted about how great my speech was on twitter. I also received an email from someone in the audience, thanking me for speaking to their group. He apologized for not being able to stay and meet me personally. He had a client meeting and he had to dash out quickly. And a couple of weeks after the speech, I received two calls from prospective clients who were in the audience.
Whether it’s a speech or a presentation before a stone-faced board at work, you can’t let people’s reactions throw you. It’s true that there are times when you need to be able to read your audience and change things up. But for the most part—you need to have confidence in your abilities and your content. You also need to realize that not everyone is going to like you. And that’s OK. You can throttle them after you’re done.