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
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.
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.
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.