I am frequently in audiences that feel the need to appreciate, acknowledge, or just get some energy out by clapping. I personally think we’re on an upswing in applause — which I pretty much dislike–but I accept it for what it is.The problem is, most presenters don’t know how to handle it. And most forget Rule #1 as soon as the palms starting slapping. If it really is about the audience, and they want to clap, let them clap. I hear speakers all the time (and several this week) that feel the need to finish their point or try to get that extra one-liner in while the audience is busy making noise. The trouble is… the audience can’t hear you talking while there is applause. So whatever you say had better be meaningless during that time. And why again are you speaking meaningless things from the stage?The correct method is to smile and acknowledge the applause, and wait for it to die (completely) down before speaking. If you’d like the stage back, begin to begin until they get the message and stop until they do. In rare cases, audiences will not oblige and pour on more and heartier applause, which means you blush with the “aw, shucks…me?” smile and wait some more.
Do not try to communicate over audience noise if at all possible.