Grieving Audience

Speaking to a Grieving Audience

The other evening I was preparing for my next Confidence Class for eighth grade girls in my community when an email came across my desk. A mother warned me that the principal of the school died yesterday afternoon suddenly and unexpectedly of a heart attack.  She alerted me that the girls were shocked and broken up by the news and she wasn’t sure how responsive they would be in the class. I thanked her for letting me know and planned my strategy. I recalled a professional speaker who spoke before an audience that was not responding. No matter what he did he couldn’t get a reaction. They just sat there with blank faces. Finally, he played his last card and said with exasperation, “What’s going on? Did somebody die?

Life is a Presentation and Memorials are No Exception

Last night I attended the memorial service for Laurie Meyer, owner of Programs Plus Speakers Bureau in New York City. She died in January at the age of 57 of cancer. It was a shock to all. Laurie was an active member of MPI (Meeting Professionals International) and the NY chapter rallied and planned a memorial service for her.

While the purpose of a memorial service is to honor and remember the life of the loved one, how it's staged, and how people communicate can have a major impact. Last night, all the rules of good presentation were fulfilled. The memorial was effectively organized and represented Laurie well. Booking the service in a comedy club was very much in keeping with Laurie's passion for doing stand up. A video of Laurie doing her comedy act made an impactful and attention-getting opener. Laurie's sister thanked everyone and was the first speaker. The emcee kept the evening moving by clearly and concisely announcing each speaker.

The program provided a variety of tributes-songs, poems, comedy acts, personal readings and sharing from the heart. Each person spoke for about three minutes or less and quickly exited the stage. The presenters provided a good balance of laughter and tears. The evening gently ended with people gathering for food and conversation.

As with all presentations, success results from good planning and coordination, choosing the right venue, a strong captivating opening, a variety of messages and styles targeted to the right audience, speaking from the heart to create engagement and an opportunity to meet afterward to bond with the audience.

Laurie will be missed and even in her absence she taught us how to present a great meeting.