Punxsutawney Phil Captures Audience Without Even Saying A Word

The small, furry groundhog that we all know and love made his annual debut today, and he had the crowd chanting his name.

Groundhog Club handler John Griffiths, center, holds Punxsutawney Phil, the weather prognosticating groundhog, during the 131st celebration of Groundhog Day on Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pa., Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017. Phil's handlers said that the groundhog has forecast six more weeks of winter weather. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Groundhog Club handler John Griffiths, center, holds Punxsutawney Phil, the weather prognosticating groundhog, during the 131st celebration of Groundhog Day on Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pa., Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017. Phil’s handlers said that the groundhog has forecast six more weeks of winter weather. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

If you were tuned in, watching the event while drinking your morning cup of coffee, you could feel the excitement rising from the crowd, and even though you weren’t physically there you still took part in the occasion.

Such occasions give speakers the opportunity to address large audiences which can be a daunting task, especially when the large audience is hanging on your every word in anticipation.

If you missed the footage of the 131st celebration of Groundhog Day on Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pa., here it is from Fox News:

Did you notice in the footage how the crowd responded to the declaration? The declaration, as is tradition, was a poem read by the members of Punxsutawney Groundhog Club’s Inner Circle. Eric Chaney, who relayed the poem in an article written for The Weather Channel, wrote,

“It’s mighty cold weather, you’ve been braving,” this year’s verse read. “Is it more winter or is it spring that you’re craving? Since you’ve been up all night and starting to tottle, I, Punxsutawney Phil, shall not dawdle,” the proclamation read. “My faithful followers, I could clearly see a beautiful, perfect shadow of me. Six more weeks of winter, it shall be!”

The crowd erupted with a mixture of delight and grumbles, and a member of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club’s Inner Circle jokingly apologized for Phil’s prediction. But hey, according to The Weather Channel there are 11 groundhogs that predict the weather, so if the audience wanted they could look toward other predicting furry creatures but that’s not the point. The point is that the audience has a connection with Punxsutawney Phil because he gives them a reason to come together in anticipation of a prediction that may or may not be accurate.

Any viewer watching the event noticed the passion and excitement conveyed by both the audience and speaker. Passion is essential when delivering a speech because it helps to connect with the audience. In this case, the passion of honoring a tradition that brings people together is expressed in the speaker’s speech and the audience’s response to his words. In an interview with Forbes, Nick Morgan said,

“In the end, though, I never forget – and you should never forget – that it comes down to passion. You’ve got to show up and be present in order to reach people through communication, and that takes passion. Otherwise, don’t bother.”

Morgan makes a valid point. Passion needs to be authentic in order for the audience to accept the speaker’s words with sincerity. Although we still may be skeptical about Phil’s prediction, there was no denying the passion that existed in the moment.

However, sometimes passion isn’t enough when the speaker has stage fright. That’s why individual speakers have tricks that help them deliver their key messages when addressing large audiences while still allowing their passion to shine through their nervousness.

Nick Morgan, the writer for Public Words, suggests 5 simple tips that can help when addressing large crowds. Below you’ll find the 5 tips listed, tying in the Fox News video footage of Punxsutawney Phil on Groundhog Day, including how the speaker addressed the largest audience to ever attend the event.

  1. Large crowds want to laugh.
    •  You can hear the people laughing and cheering as Phil was pulled out and placed upon the stump. Such laughing en masse can be infectious and creates happiness as well was unity.
  2. Large audiences need more time.
    • It takes time for a speaker’s voice to carry in a crowd, causing a slight delay in reaction from the audience – you may have noticed that delay from the audience in the Fox News video footage.
  3. Large audiences demand and give back more energy.
    • The speaker used more energy by using inflections in his speech, pausing to give the large audience a chance to participate in the moment with their cheers.
  4. Large audiences need simplicity.
    • The speaker kept the speech simple because the large audience was already there for the purpose of sharing in a momentous moment – Phil’s prediction. 
  5. Large audiences need to be active, not passive. 
    • By pausing, the speaker gave the audience the chance to chant and cheer. This allowed them to be in the moment and participate as I mentioned in tip 3.

In sum, we all have tricks that allow us to face a large audience with confidence and share what we’re passionate about. And thanks to Punxsutawney Phil we’ll have six more weeks of winter! Keep warm my friends.

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