That’s what they say in the theatre. Always play to the people who are with you. The ones who buy your act, the ones who expect to be knocked out by you, the ones who are laughing even before you get to the punch line. You can feel who they are. (Some of them even walk in with positive expectations…looking for a good time.) Don’t focus, (the theatre people say,) on the wrinkled foreheaded, narrow eyed, turned down lipped people who are at their best when they’re rolling their eyes. You know those people. Forget about them.

Because here’s the thing: If you focus on the good guys, play to them and play off them, if you nod when they nod, if you grin when they grin, if you appreciate their appreciating you…you win. And you can win big. And that holds for any audience you might face – not just the ones at 30 ROCK or The Winter Garden…

We’ve all seen stand-up comics or politicians on the stump (sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference…) or even CEO’s at their annual meetings - get heckled, booed, hissed at or walked out on. Sometimes somebody who’s really rude will actually try to pick a fight with them…You know, you can almost hear them now: “Are you nuts? What the heck are  you trying to sell us? Will somebody get the hook, for God’s sake???” And the bad news is, sometimes the offended “actor” falls for it. Sometimes they’ll even walk straight up to the rude person, go toe to toe, nose to nose and engage. And yes, that can make for good “theatre” but it makes for lousy “scores” on the ultimate popularity, credibility or “I’m going to vote for him!” rating sheet…

Here’s why: Suddenly, when the “performer” allows him/herself to get sucked into the fray, all the energy in the room turns negative. The rest of the audience is embarrassed… and the person on the stage is the one who loses. Not the heckler.

So if you’re the one who’s “heckled” (criticized, overly questioned, faced with a few or even a bunch of wrinkled-faced doubters) when you’re up there making your pitch, don’t get mad, don’t take the bait. Don’t even get the least bit defensive. Be gracious. And if it turns out that a response is in order you can say, “You know, I can understand that you might feel that way; I totally get it…but here’s the actual situation…and here’s my solution…” Then smile, return to the people on your side and play to them, maybe leading with, “Am I right??” Then bask in their applause.

And here’s a fact: If enough people love ya, the ones who don’t, don’t matter. So love your audience, okay?. And enough of them will love you right back.

Hey, check out the debates, the caucuses, the town hall meetings…and see who “plays it” to their advantage…

Gail Blanke’s Lifedesigns ©2015 All Rights Reserved

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