Thursday, June 10, 2010

Speaking in stadiums, arenas, or large auditoriums

On June 2nd Steve Siebold video blogged about the ways in which speaking to very large audiences differs from the smaller ones most speakers are familiar with. His video showed the exterior of the famous Madison Square Garden in New York City. The Garden holds an audience of up to up to 20,000 people. An earlier podcast in March 2009 described speaking to an audience of 8000 in Los Angeles. Mr. Siebold identified three differences between stadiums and smaller spaces.

The first difference is that it takes much longer for a very large crowd to respond. Their reaction runs through the audience like The Wave at a football stadium. A speaker will need to wait for it. Before he even can start he may have to wait a few minutes for the crowd to settle down.

The second difference is visual. There are gigantic video screens (JumboTron or Imag) beside the speaker. Also, the stage lights may be so bright and hot that the speaker will find it difficult to see most of the audience.

The third difference is audible. It takes far longer for a voice to echo and die away, so he will need to speak more slowly in order to be heard clearly above the background from reverberation. A speaker needs to check and listen to someone else before speaking. I will discuss reverberation in another post.

The current Madison Square Garden is the fourth building to bear that name. It is such a well known name that its lack of reality is overlooked. It is not a square, not located at Madison Square, and definitely not a garden. Madison Square Garden has hosted concerts, speeches, and political conventions, but mostly is a sports arena for hockey and basketball.

A sports stadium or an arena is not a concert hall or theater. It is not the best possible space for public speaking, as Jonathan Sprinkles discusses in this video.

The image showing a hockey jersey retirement ceremony is from Iris Kawling.

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