In church this past week, we were leading up to the GATE (Great American Tryptophan Extravaganza, sometimes called Thanksgiving) and singing songs that were a) appropriate to the theme, and b) known to most of the audience. The second option is a trick these days, as an older crowd frequently doesn’t know the songs the younger crowd is pleased by, and vice versa. So after hearing the first phrase of a common song, I made a mental note that this should be a high-participation oratorio.Boy was I wrong. Seems that those in charge of music decided to use an arrangement known only to the choir — syncopation and even the melody was changed from the rendition fafmiliar to the audience. The first time through everyone sang out with gusto, only to find out they were singing in a pause (that usually was not there). The second time, it was a bit softer, and by the non-standard ending, virtually no one in the audience was singing. One has to wonder the purpose of a supposedly public song that no one can sing.As speakers we do the same thing. We provide handouts that cannot be followed, or do not refer at all to them. We use anecdotes and stories that only we can follow. We ask questions with answers that cannot possibly be known to our audience, expecting answers, but when the right answer tarries, we show frustration.Our goal should be to make it as easy as possible for our audience to be involved and take ownership of the message. When it makes sense, of course, we can use shock and surprises to make a point. But when we want them to be a part, let’s not make them be apart.
Include your audience and make it easy for them to listen and participate.
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