This week had I had the opportunity to be in front of a small group. . . 9 people. That’s NINE – single digit. . .no, I didn’t miss a zero. Before this, the smallest I’d spoken to was 12. . . a little bit of a drop from the 4400 people I was in front of at the Mayo Clinic last year? If it gets any smaller, I think I’ll be performing in a phone booth.
In comedy clubs,
whenever there’s a small group, the comic tends to make fun of the crowd. The standard joke is “only 15 people here? This is intimate. Which in comedy language means crappy turnout.” It’s a funny line, but it makes the crowd feel bad that they came out. . hey, it’s not their fault!
Make them feel good. . .
So remember, in the case of small groups, you need to make them feel good about being there. I generally start off with a compliment. . “.I love being in front of small groups.” Then hit them with a tasteful joke “it’s just that if you showed up at your job and there were only 2 people there, wouldn’t you figure you missed a holiday or something?”
It’s all about YOU
Find a way to turn the joke on YOU not them. There’s always the standard “I showered” line, but that’s stock. Maybe something a little more to the point – “this always happens when they hear I’m on stage” might be a better way to do it if you’re really, really confident that you will do well.
I could have started out with. . .
”By the way, there was only 9 people because it was a RETREAT. It was designed that way. . .people didn’t “no-show” because I was speaking.” (Which it really was a retreat designed for just the 9 – just to answer your question) OR maybe the phone booth line above would work. . .hey let’s hold this in my living room and be more comfortable.
The bottom line is, these people showed up, so you want to make them happy they did so. They’re already self-conscientious about it, so don’t add to that.