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October 31, 2018

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While in general I agree, I have known some enjoyable and productive sessions of audience participation. There are at least three reasons why they don’t work: 1. People are afraid they will look silly 2. They have done it all before a gazillion times and are just a wee bit bored, not to say sceptical 3. There has been no preparation for, or buy-in to, the participation. Get over these hurdles and it can be better than sitting in an uncomfortable chair wanting to have a pee. There is another form of audience participation which few speakers can use but most actors do. And that consists of drawing the audience into the discourse by various verbal and physical tricks. It is really not enough to stand behind a lectern and read your script off the iPad while the screen behind you shows bullet points and irrelevant pictures.

I realise that I have not answered your question as to why speakers like audience participation- but that is because you have answered it yourself. I could perhaps add that even a bad session requires a lot of effort on the part of the speaker, so they may feel more rewarded. There is also a cultural thing. You can get away with it in America but not elsewhere.

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