Tough Crowd


If you prefer to watch this video over reading the whole blog post, here is a video summary of the article.


As I finished my funniest, kills every time routine, all I heard were crickets.


This audience and I did not connect.  Such a painful experience for performer and audience.

What had I done wrong, or not well?  Was I off?  Was it because of their profession?  Was it too early in the morning for what I’d prepared?  Was it the bad sound system they provided?  They’re probably just miserable people in general.  Actually, let’s blame them, that’s the easiest out.

We can justify it any way we see fit, but since accountability and integrity is essentially the theme of The Promise I have to look inside to see what didn’t work.

To be candid, this doesn’t happen very often to me, so when it does occur I am in a near catastrophic psychological state.

What I have found more often than not connecting with the audience is the audience doesn’t even show up!

For example, the other night I did an event for a friend whom I owed a big favor.  Rented a fairly sizable theater, expecting many people would come, especially since it was in my home state and we thought people may still come to see me once in a while.

As the show began we looked out over the theater – maybe 30 people?  Or no, about 40.  In a 400 seat venue.  In the city where I currently live.  Ouch.

When the Audience doesn’t show up, what is my promise as Performer?  Well, it was my opening line:

“Folks, I haven’t done a show for this size of a crowd since….never actually.  So here’s my promise to you – we so appreciate that you would come tonight, this will be the kind of show that you’ll tell your friends and family and everyone who didn’t come what they missed out on!  What do ya say?  Here we go!” 

I consider this promise essential.  In my past career doing many shows for public audiences, when the smattering of people was smaller than fit my ego’s expectations, I would rip the audience, making snide remarks about how upsetting it was to see such a small crowd.

It was my Mom who finally said, “My son, you can’t punish the few who took the time to come see you.  You must give them your best, even if you are upset.” 

Mom always comes through.  Forrest Gump was correct when he said, “Mama always had a way of explaining things so I could understand them”.

And then like Forrest Gump, I just kept running….and ate a box of chocolates….alone at a bus stop.

How we respond to unexpected results defines our character and proves our true self.

When our plans don’t go as hoped it is our choice as to fall apart or build something beautiful with the pile of rubble that remains.

If you followed my RV Trip across America with my family this summer, you know I have to constantly remind myself of this principle.  In the case of the trip, my kids and wife are The Audience.  Yes, they’re my family, but truthfully,  in the RV I’m a TOUR BUS DRIVER without at CDL, who has to do everything to make the trip happen.  They’re my audience.

I admit it, I lost it a few times.  However, I kept it together more often than not.

Now let’s consider your business –

Have you ever wondered why not enough people were coming to your new restaurant? 

Maybe you write a weekly blog and don’t get many comments? 

Perhaps you thought the amazing invention you created would be an easy sell, and after creating the product no one is buying?

These are painful realities.

We either need to adjust the results the customer receives, to ensure “Raving Fans”, or look honestly at personal pride and put that aside, while adjusting our expectation of how successful we thought we’d be.

The promise has many sides:


Satisfaction Upon Delivery;

Experience with Customer;

Determination of their Return.

When we keep Promises to the Audience we deliver on all levels.

When the audience recognizes this, we become legendary.

When all cylinders aren’t firing we need to recalibrate the promise we are offering, and become a bit more realistic in some cases, and others, to shift completely the direction currently forging.

For years I’ve been done with performing my show for public events.  My show is no longer what it was.  My focus is speaking as Keynote Speaker at important meetings, corporate events, influencing, guiding business leaders, sales people, managers, and others, to keep the promise at work and home, while delivering a hilarious, musical, surprising speech performance.  I get a standing ovation pretty much after every speech (with exception of that one I told you about at the beginning).  I love being a Speaker who over-delivers with performance and entertainment mixed into a powerful, business changing message.

But now, when I do a Show for the Public, people no longer come!  I have no one to blame but me.  It is no longer my market, my thing, and people don’t know if they should come see me or not.  It’s a tough pill to swallow but it’s the truth.

And thus the answer comes back to us.  Always.  Very rarely is it the audience.

What can you adjust today that will result in:

  1. Greater Audience Engagement
  2. Cultivating Raving Fans
  3. Becoming Legendary to Your Customer

Here are 5 Solutions and action items Leaders & Business Owners, and Management can take: 

  1. Promote what you Promise, and over-deliver on that Promise – look candidly at the reality.
  2. Be Consistent with Messaging – are you offering too much and not a specific niche?  It may be confusing to the customer.
  3. Turn your Customer into Family by being so grateful they are your Audience and showed up, by delivering unique levels of engagement and gratitude.
  4. Give them Something to Talk About – if they have an amazing experience with you, they will tell everyone.
  5. Become an Anticipatory Organization – This is a term coined by the brilliant, Daniel Burrus, a friend and mentor of mine, and his book about this concept is available as of October 10.  I hope you’ll join me in getting a copy, as I’ve already read it and yes, it will transform the way you think as a Leader.
Daniel Burrus, Genius, Friend, Hall of Fame Speaker and Author of The Anticipatory Organization


~ jason

Jason Hewlett, CSP (Certified Speaking Professional), CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame, is a Keynote Speaker for the largest corporate events in the world. His primary message, The Promise, is essential for Leadership, Management, Sales, Marketing, Direct-Sales Companies, and is a combination of engagement and entertainment meets inspiration.  Jason has even received standing ovations from IT guys.  He has been acknowledged as life-changing by Conference Attendees, C-Level Executives and Hollywood Elite.

Please click here to learn about how Jason Hewlett, Speaker Hall of Fame, introduces the opportunity for you, or someone you love, to have the gift of learning how to create a Career From the Stage and begin moving toward fulfilling a lifelong dream as a full-time speaker, performer, or entertainer.



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14 thoughts on “Tough Crowd”

  1. Jason, I totally wanted to come to your event while you were in town! However, there wasn’t enough time to prepare to attend. I felt like you told us at the last minute about your show. I had to work the night of your show and there wasn’t enough time to find a replacement. I was so bummed that I missed you! If you ever decide to do another charitable event in Utah, please,please give your audience at least two weeks OR MORE advance notice! 🙂
    I have seen you twice before in Utah and would have definatly made it to this show if I wasn’t working. Your shows are awesome!!! I think more people would have come if they were given more notice. You have lots of fans in Utah!

    1. Haha it’s ok Nancy, thank you for saying you’d come. We actually did advertise it for about 2 weeks but it just didn’t work out, and with algorithms on social media who knows if anyone saw it. However, it turned out to be a fun night regardless and I am grateful for those who both came and wanted to but couldn’t!

  2. Thank you Jason, for the reminder that this journey is about so much more than status and financial success – it is about our relationship with ourselves and with our audience across formats, platforms, and seasons. Thanks for kicking down the fourth wall and reconnecting performance back to The Promise.

  3. If I had known about the event, I would have been there. No matter how often I see you on stage, it isn’t often enough. From the Delta Center (or whatever they are calling it this year) to a fireside chat, you always deliver. Love your message (and your mom’s advice) about doing your best for the best (the ones who show up for you). You are (still and always) the master, Jason Hewlett!

  4. Great post! I read everything you send but don’t always comment, so I thought this time I should so you know I read! You’re great. I’m amazed by what you give and share and how you keep all of your promises.

    1. Oh my heck! A Comment! 🙂 You’re so funny. Thank you for reading, I’m surprised people still do after all these years. Thank you!

    1. Without you and friends there it’s not a show, it would have been a meet & greet, to whom I could have just walked through the audience and taken questions. Thank you Heather for your support always!

    1. Hahaha it’s ok. Not many people knew about it apparently. Was talking about your family the other day with some folks, you are admired so far beyond your circle it’s incredible. Miss you all.

  5. I try to remember to take 100% responsibility for every audience. They were kind enough to lend me their time and it’s my goal to give them what they want. If I blame a rough audience or low turnout on them, I have no recourse. If I take full responsibility then I can make adjustments to give them the experience they deserve. There is no such thing as a bad audience, just an audience that I haven’t figured out yet. It’s my job to figure out what they need and add a little magic to their life. After 40 years and thousands of performances it’s a easy for me to forget to listen to an audience. Real magic only happens when I listen and then give what is needed.

    1. Oh man Paul, this is so well said. You of all people know the right way to look at it with your vast experience, always delivering the highest level. Admire you brother!

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