One trick I’ve learned over the years of speaking to an audience is to introduce a moment of silence. I simply stop talking and listen. If I hear occasional coughs and shuffling about, if I see eyes wandering, I know that I have not captured my audience’s undivided attention. But if I hear nothing, see every eye focused on me, detect no motion in the people gathered before me, I know that they are spellbound. The story I have been telling, my words, and my emotions have captivated them.
I often get the spellbound reaction. That’s largely because the material I’m presenting is in and of itself mesmerizing. So much of my story is about life-and-death situations on the battlefield. My most popular presentation is on the fall of Saigon from which I escaped under fire after the North Vietnamese were already in the streets of the city. Audiences react to the terror I felt and convey.
So I look forward to speaking to live audiences again. I enjoy watching them react to my story. I cherish the interchanges with them. I take pleasure in watching the emotions I’m feeling reflected in their faces. And I’ll have an opportunity to do just that at 11:00 a.m. today when I do a reading from my books at the Ellicott City 50+ Center. The center is located directly behind the Miller Branch Library at 9421 Frederick Road, Ellicott City.
I’m astonished at the transformation an audience and a microphone can create in me. And I can’t wait to be at it again.