How to Deal with “The Heckler” Part 1
It’s something we’ve all faced. When I was in student ministry, it was the most annoying thing that could happen every Wednesday night. Now as an illusionist, it can be an even bigger problem. Let’s examine types of hecklers for me as an illusionist and for you as a student minister.
–It’s the guy who yells out how he thinks a trick works, no matter how ridiculous he sounds. It’s the person who gets on stage and tries to hijack everything that’s going on just so he/she gets the attention.
In student ministry-
–It’s the attention seeker–the heckler–the kid who constantly yells out things to be distracting. It’s the person who during a game or illustration, completely derails your hard worked plans into a chance to make themselves a star.
The problem is, that in both of these situations, the general reaction of other audience members is split right down the middle. The rest of your audience can either laugh, joining them to the heckler, or in a better case, they can roll their eyes and ignore the said heckler. The downside of either reaction is that you have lost control. As a leader, speaker, and minister, you never want to lose control of your audience. What are some preemptive steps you can take to retain control?
Over the next few days I’m going to break down a few techniques that you can implement to cut down on distractions. Let’s face it, when you are on stage, or in front of your students, you have something to say. You have put the time in planning, retooling, and working your message until you are happy with it. You have prayed over it, and have been obedient in letting it be God’s words, and not your own. The worst thing that can happen is that you lose control, and someone who needs to hear what you have to say gets distracted and misses God.
Take control from start to finish.
A. This seems self explanatory, but it’s something that is sometimes sorely missed. The stage or the platform, or whatever you stand on when you are there in front of your students, is your house. This is not an ego thing, so don’t confuse what I’m saying, but this is about the students or audience view of you. If you command their respect, they will give it.
B. Like I said it’s your house, and they are guests in your house. If you bring someone up on stage with you, then you are the one in control, and you need to show that. The second you lose control, you will severely struggle the rest of the night to get it back.
C. If you ask a question, lay down parameters that you don’t want people shouting out answers. This seems so simple, but it’s something that we miss. When you lay a precedent out that it’s okay to just yell out in the middle of what you are doing, you set a bad precedent. Students will continue to walk all over the freedom that you have given them because they don’t realize that it’s not the time for it. You and I know it’s not the time for it, but remember what it’s like to be that student. You desperately want people to like you and laugh at your jokes. That becomes the priority. We have to curb this natural instinct in their heads by laying clear guidelines and expectations.
Trust is the glue on my stage
In my show, if I get someone on my stage, they don’t do anything without my instruction. Not because I’m some magnetic hypnotist, but because I set a very clear precedent in how I talk to them, from the moment I walk on stage, to the moment they walk on and off of my stage. The one single reason that this precedent works, is because they trust me. They know I won’t embarrass them. The key thing is trust, and the reason they give that trust so quickly, (literally within five minutes of me walking onstage, I have an audience member doing something that is vitally important for the rest of the show) is because I let them know consciously and subconsciously that it’s my stage. Then I trust them. They trust me.
Tomorrow we will move one step further in this. Use this tonight with your students and see if you notice a difference.