What to Do When You’ve Lost Your Audience

A little while ago I was running a day-long training for the national sales leadership team – about 100 people – for a major tech company, and in the middle of the program I heard something I’d never heard before:




I was stunned. Where the heck did THAT come from?


I looked around searching for clues, and then I saw it: On the screen was an image of people on a Zoom call… and I was doing the training for a primary Zoom competitor!


The energy in the room stopped cold. Now what? Tucking my tail between my legs and slinking out of the room after the faux pas clearly wasn’t an option. I needed to get my audience back.


How could I regain both the audience’s respect and trust, and the momentum of the event?


I did the only thing I could think of: I joined in!


“Oh, Booo! I boo myself! Rule number one is always ‘know your audience’! I totally forgot this slide was there. My apologies for the oversight.


But here’s the thing: I actually spend a lot of time looking online for images. It’s really hard to find images that have the right content, feeling AND good enough resolution to project large up on screen without getting grainy.


So let me ask you a question: In all that time, why didn’t I find a good, high-quality image of (your product)?”


I let that sink in silently for a second, then followed it up.


“I don’t know the answer either, but let’s fix the problem together: Who here will work with me, and commit to sending me a high resolution image of (your product) after we’re done today, that I can officially substitute as the new image when leading this program for other clients in the future?”


Instantly, half a dozen hands went up.


“Excellent. Do we have a deal?” They nodded. “Great — so are we resolved here? Shall we move on?”


And move on we did.


But what was most important was what happened AFTER the program was done. One after another, participants came up to me and shared the same feedback:


“I can’t tell you how glad I am that that happened! Thanks for modeling how to successfully handle a ‘screw-up’ in real time. Aside from the fact that it’s good to know you make presentation mistakes too, watching how you handled the situation was the most valuable part of the day.”


Now, sometimes there’s a moment like that where you lose your audience in an instant. Other times you feel them slipping away, losing interest and focus little by little, both online and offline.


Either way, it’s a terrible feeling, and the key is being able to get real, re-establish connection, and move forward together.


That’s just one of the mission-critical issues on this week’s episode of Speaking to Influence, with Michael Fomkin, Co-Founder of VIP IGNITE.



Michael and I also dove into the importance of having a good elevator pitch, building confidence speaking from the stage, learning to speak off the cuff, and how to give criticism in an impactful way.


Listen to the full conversation here or watch the video here.


Of course, in order to keep your audience’s attention you have to capture it in the first place, which most people have a particularly hard time doing in the virtual world.


If you think this might be part of the challenge for you or someone you know, check out my Virtual Influence online course here. It’s a great alternative holiday gift for someone you want to help have even greater confidence and success online!


If you’d like to take advantage of that opportunity, as my gift to you, use the promo code INFLUENCE21 for a 67% DISCOUNT off the regular registration price through the end of the year.