September 3, 2009

How To Handle Praise

If you’ve been studying my Story Theater Method, listening to my Story Theater Audio Six Pack or working with my Dynamite Speech System, something wonderful is going to start happening when you speak. People are going to walk up to you afterwards gushing with praise. They’ll tell you how meaningful your story was to them or how you’ve caused them to look at their lives differently.

Some of them will have tears in their eyes. They’ll want to engage you in long conversations and tell you the story of their life. They’ll want to give you things that have meaning to them. In other words, they will connect with you and let you know that you made a difference in their life.

This is what you want, right? This is why you spent so much time on your speech. This is why you wanted to share your story in the first place. So, in the moment when you are standing there and people are lined up after your speech waiting to talk to you, here are a few hints on how to handle all of the praise.

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Have a comfortable and firm foundation from which to stand there and receive.

Keep an open posture and an open heart as you graciously listen to what they have to share with you.

Be patient and maintain eye contact. Love the one you’re with. At that moment, no one else is important.

Simply receive. Say thank you. Say thank you again. Each time they praise you, accept it with a simple thank you.

If they linger too long, more than three or four minutes, simply take their hand and say thank you and mention that there are other people in line and you want to “honor the other people in line as well.”

If you do have time, ask them a question to gain feedback on your presentation, like “what one thing did I say that has made a difference for you?” or “what did I say that will stick with you?”

One thing you should not do is negate their praise with a self-effacing statement. Don’t say, “It really wasn’t my best speech,” or, “I’m really not that good,” or, “Thank you but…”

At that moment, it’s really not about you. It’s about them. You just gave them a gift, now it’s their turn. Let them give you a gift. At that moment, they only have their thoughts and feelings to share, and because they may not be in the habit of speaking to people like you, be sensitive to their situation. Make it easy for them. Stand and receive. Breathe. Say thank you over and over again.

And my last piece of advice is this. Get used to it.


Doug Stevenson, president of Story Theater International, is the creator of The Story Theater Method and the author of the book, Doug Stevenson’s Story Theater Method, formerly titled Never Be Boring Again. He works with individuals and organizations to help them choose, craft and deliver compelling speeches, presentations and stories, thereby engaging attention and improving retention.

His programs include, Get Out of Your Own Way, Emotional Eloquence – The Lost language of Leadership, Storytelling in Business is Serious Business and It Was A Dark and Stormy Sales Presentation – The Serious Business of Selling with Stories

His keynote speaking, corporate training and executive coaching clients include Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, Lockheed Martin, Oracle, Bristol Myers Squibb, Aetna, Amgen, Volkswagen, Century 21, The Department of Defense, The National Education Association and many more.

Doug can be reached at 1-800-573-6196 or 1-719-573-6195 or at:

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