Involving your audience as a speaker can be incredibly challenging.
As someone who often hosts game shows and team building exercises, Mike Montague has significant experience in this respect. This week, he sat down with Grant Baldwin on The Speaker Lab Podcast to share some of the tricks and insights he’s gathered throughout his speaking career.
Here are the top 3 takeaways from their conversation:
Be Smart When Involving Your Audience
When you’re on stage speaking to an audience, you have the power over the room. When you hand that power to an audience member, you’re taking a risk. While it can lead to awesome unscripted moments, things can also go off the rails pretty quickly. Mike has learned a few practical tips throughout his career to keep things running smoothly when you involve your audience.
First, it’s important not to actually give the audience member your microphone. Have a dedicated audience microphone that can be shut off by someone in case there’s a problem. Another thing Mike recommends is to accept the awkward silences when you ask a question. In his experience, someone will always rescue you. If someone won’t stop talking, walking up to them can provide a helpful nudge.
Be Upfront and Clear in Your Agreements
In addition to Mike’s game show gigs, he also works with an international training company called Sandler. But doing speaking gigs both personally and through a separate company presented a complicated situation. Mike found that the best way to navigate it was to make sure he had clear upfront agreements, keeping everything above board.
When he first signed on with Sandler, Mike mentioned his side gigs to them and asked if he could continue doing them. They agreed, but laid out a few conditions, such as making sure any sales and leadership training talks were managed through Sandler, and making sure that when he was working for them, everything he was doing would be on behalf of Sandler.
By being clear and upfront, Mike can balance his personal gigs and his main career without being concerned about potential conflicts, and both him and Sandler are happy with the arrangement. This advice applies beyond Mike’s particular situation; in every area of public speaking, things are much easier when everyone is on the same page.
Practice Makes Perfect
Mike’s final piece of advice for those who want to be speakers is simple: start speaking. People often complement him for his apparent natural speaking ability, but Mike knows more than anyone that it wasn’t always that easy. As he puts it, “There’s no way to magically be a good performer. You have to be a bad one first.”
Especially as you’re starting out, the practice and experience you gain is often worth it in and of itself, even if you have to do gigs for free or in unconventional arrangements.
Ready to hear more? Check out Episode 456 of The Speaker Lab podcast here or wherever you get your podcasts.