In my presentation skills class, we explore how to manage distracting audience behavior. This may include people arriving late, leaving early, having side conversations, eating noisy or stinky food, rummaging through their belongings, asking irrelevant questions, and more. The most dreaded is the person who heckles the speaker.
I teach that a heckler is a helper disguised as a jerk.
Nate Burgoyne (Integrity Online Marketing), was a participant in my class. He said that sometimes people heckle him by asking, “Who would pay for something they can get for free on the Internet?” (To make it a heckle, please add a nasty tone of voice and negative body language.)
I asked the class, “How are these people helpers? What do they allow Nate to do that he might not otherwise have done?”
We discovered that because of these Helpful Hecklers, Nate gets to say, “I’d be HAPPY to tell you who pays for my services instead of getting it for free on the Internet. My clients include people who ______ and companies which ________ and small business owners who _________.”
At the end of the session, Nate rubbed his hands together eagerly and said, “Ooh. Now I’m hoping for heckling!”