Insights through Illusion for Daily Living

Posts tagged “heckler

How to Deal with the “Heckler” Part 4

How to Pick

If you have been following my heckler series, then you should pretty much be up to speed. For those of you who have not, then check out the rest of the series here

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

The number one tip thus far is for you to stay in control of your stage.  Whether you are an illusionist or a student minister, or anyone who has to get up in front of a tough crowd, you have to remember that when you are on stage it’s your stage.  You own it.  Because if you don’t own it, you will get walked all over.  It’s a confidence issue that has to be overcome.  I’m not saying that you have to be the most outgoing person offstage, but when you are onstage, you should be at home.

The Approach.

One of the things I learned through trial and error a long time ago, is that when you ask someone to help you onstage, the first thing that runs through their mind is, “they are going to embarrass me.” Naturally no one likes to be embarrassed, to we have to put that fear to rest before it raises its ugly little head.

The best way to do that is to assure the audience you are not going to embarrass them.  How do you do that?  The best way to pick someone out of a crowd is not by standing onstage and pointing at someone.  It’s the easiest, but the least effective.  Get down to where they are, but continue to own the room. Walk into the crowd and evaluate using the steps from Part 3.  Once you have made your selection, walk over to the person and ask them to help you out onstage.

It sounds over simplistic, but it’s not. Your approach has everything to do with them following your instructions onstage.

The Ask.

What happens is that you ask them to help you out, in a way that is not a question but more of a command.  That sounds crazy, and on paper it will be hard to explain, but it is without a doubt the best approach period.

This is what I say.  There is an effect where I need to have a spectator write something down. I approach them, lock eyes with them and say, “Do you have pretty good handwriting?” They answer and it doesn’t matter what they say at this point because you are mainly illustrating your control of the situation.

This is the secret right here. I then say, “Great, can you help me out onstage with something?” I don’t wait a beat for an answer, but instead address the audience and say, “Give her a big hand as she makes her way on stage!”

If I were to merely ask if she wanted to help out, and wait for her response, she could flatly turn me down. Now though but not giving her an option she is the center of the rooms attention and she can’t let them down by sitting there.  She knows she is now expected to get onstage, and she will.  100% of the time.  I have never had this fail, ever.

The social ramifications of them staying in their seat while I turn my back and make my way to the stage are too much for them to stay seated.  She comes on stage, and is now primed and prepared to follow my instructions to the “T.” They literally have no choice but to help you out and follow instructions at this point.

You can still lose it from here, but that is where staying in control really comes into play.

Next week we will talk about what happens when they are on stage.

How do you approach students to help you on stage?

Is this effective?

What can you do differently?

How to Deal with the “Heckler” Part 2

The Heckler Part 2

Stealing Thunder

Let’s face it, the only kind of person that thrives on a heckling audience is a professional wrestling villain. If you missed last Wednesday’s blog on the introduction to the Heckler series, then check it out here.


Stealing Thunder

The heckler in question today is the Thunder Stealer. As a minister, it is of utmost importance to keep your “thunder,” which keeps your command of the room.

My show is very deliberate. Everything I do is planned. Tomorrow, I will show you how you can be deliberate in everything you do.

Sometimes though, even the most deliberate movement can be challenged. Recently I did a show in which the audience member helping me on stage would verbally chime in and make comments or jokes right before I would make them myself. This was a 500+ person show, so this could have been an embarrassment for me. This person would interrupt my patter, just to make a comment about what I was wearing, something about the lights, anything she could think of. She had never seen my show, but she had the type of personality, where she wanted the attention on herself.  The only saving grace in the situation was that she didn’t have a mic so a lot of people didn’t hear her.

The jokes and points I have scripted have been worked out over the last few years in this one routine to cause a certain reaction from my audience.  I like this routine. It’s my favorite to perform because of the way it leads the audience down the garden path, only to pull the rug out from under them.  The problem is, when punchlines or even reveals are made prematurely by the person on stage, the effect loses the amazement factor. I had to work very hard during this instance to control my stage. Thankfully, audience members only get a mic in my show when I want them to say something. There are times in youth ministry where this type of heckler can be detrimental to your service.

The Danger

Think about your ministry. Let’s say you have an illustration  you want to use.  You are super-pumped about it, and you know it will kill.  Then, you unknowingly pick the “Thunder Stealer” Heckler. You bring the Thunder Stealer on stage (whom you totally think you can trust) who completely derails you by directing the audience focus to his/herself.  It’s annoying.  It can throw you off, but worst of all…

It can distract someone who needs to hear the Gospel.  Let’s face it, the reason I do what I do, and the reason you do what you do is so that people will hear the Gospel.  Last week I talked about owning the stage to cut down on distractions from those in the crowd, but to have someone on stage with you who seems trustworthy that wrecks what your trying to accomplish, can have drastic results.

Situations like this are invariably going to happen (rarely). However, you are not going to let your thunder be stolen. It would be easy to get distracted by the Thunder Stealer’s comments, but remember, you are in your charge. This is your house, your stage, your message that God wants you to share. You don’t laugh at the Thunder Stealer. Instead, you draw the focus back to you.

Tomorrow, I’m going to go through how to pick people you can trust from any audience, whether it’s your own student group/audience, or whether you are a complete stranger.  These techniques are invaluable and will serve you very well in accomplishing the goal of coherently sharing the Gospel with minimal distractions.

How do you deal with the Thunder Stealer?