I mean, really BIG groups, such as 100, 200 and up to 500 people, often times seated in an auditorium.
I’ve just come off stage from a massive Girl Guides convention in Victoria, and was reminded of three important ‘how-to-handle-large-group’ tips:
Slow down your message & take your time. Pause often, because silence can be a very powerful weapon when you want to emphasise a point. Talk too fast, or get too excited, and the microphone, PA system or poor acoustics may kill your message. And once people are distracted, they quickly disengage.
Invite interaction. There is nothing more potent than generating lots of non-threatening buzz in your presentation. Most people in groups this size know very few of the people sitting around them, so make the ‘introduction’ really easy by offering very simple, intriguing yet fun questions for strangers to ask one another. Questions such as those found in Ice-Breaker Question Exchange are ideal.
Generate lots of laughter. Following on from above, invite your group to laugh. Nothing will erode your nerves (not to mention that of your audience) quicker than genuine, raucous laughter. Providing space for laughter is a wonderful opportunity for you to remember to breathe and think of what’s coming up next.
Magic often happens in big groups. You never know what’s going to happen. Take your time and laugh.
Take, for example, Marilyn, one of the Girl Guide leaders in the crowd who just had to exclaim that she, too, was named after her father’s 2nd most favourite girlfriend. Just hilarious.