I recently attended a wedding where the famed Carnatic singer, Sudha Ragunathan, was performing at the wedding. None of the audience members in the wedding hall were listening to this multiple award-winning singer. That’s understandable because people come to marriages to wish the couple and catch up with long lost relatives. Not for a Carnatic music concert.
That said, I was impressed with the intensity with which Sudha Ragunathan and her troupe performed. She didn’t care if anyone was actually listening to her rendition. She was absorbed in her own world and giving it her best. She was performing for herself. That when external factors don’t dictate your performance.
Another instance was when I hosted a prestigious event for a global organization. It was a very formal, black-tie event with a 5-course dinner in an upmarket hotel. There was a professional speaker from Singapore who was specially flown in for this event. His talk was scheduled between the dinner courses. When an audience is served dinner, people instinctively start eating while listening to the event. This means that there will be lots of clinging and clanging of cutlery. Thankfully, the chief organizer of the event noticed that this is not a conducive environment for the speaker and quickly called the chef and asked him to pause the serving of drinks and food until the talk was over. It was of some inconvenience to the guests but the right decision. As a professional speaker, we have the right to suggest to the organizers to pause the dinner. This way, the speaker can deliver better value for the audience. Even if they did not, it is our job as a professional speaker to not mind the distraction or the noise and continue to give our very best on the stage. That’s the sign of a true professional.