Last night, I was at the 123rd APTS meeting.
Richard is a professional emcee and certainly knows his way around the stage. He gave very useful tips on how to build up and maintain the energy of an audience. He admits that things are slightly different for trainers, but insists that the techniques he suggests can easily carry over.
When he describes what he does as he is getting on stage, I notice the similarity to what I do as I am about to begin a teaching session. Both of us are looking for similar things - what Richard calls 'hotspots'.
Hotspots are groups of people who are responsive and energetic. For an emcee, this is a huge asset to lifting the overall atmosphere. For a teacher, it is no different, except that there may be moments when the teacher has to get the group to quieten down.
Richard also talks about looking for a 'Mr. Tan'. He explains that he uses this term because 'Tan' is the most common surname in Singapore. A 'Mr. Tan' is someone the audience recognises and listens to, who can drum up enthusiasm when he is asked to participate and who is willing to do so. His advice is to treat 'Mr. Tan' well, and never to over-use him or abuse him.
As a teacher, this is undoubtedly familiar. It is easier to get enthusiasm from our learners when someone gets the ball rolling. This someone has to be known by most of the participants and willing to be your 'guinea pig'. Otherwise, it's going to be a difficult ride.
Avi, on the other hand, has a slightly different approach to connecting with his audience. He prefers to share his heart and be intentional about adding value to those who learn from him. It's not so much about entertainment as it is about giving them something.
With such a wealth of experience, he freely shares his stories and experiences, encouraging us to never be ashamed of making mistakes, since the audience will have made mistakes in their lives too.
He says to learn from these mistakes instead of focusing on the pain they are causing. This has the added advantage of helping us to connect, and to prevent us from intimidating our audience with a 'perfect' persona.
I've learned a fair bit from these two speakers and am grateful that they were willing to give of their time and expertise.