Linda Mrosko asked:
As an aside -- how do you quiet a room with terrible
acoustics full of loud people? Thanks!
John Sweeney replied:
Last time I had the challenge of working with a room
full of noisy youngsters (most of whom didn’t speak English) I just led by example,
starting with a Grand March then did:
<description of easy, quick-teach dance
Once they has used up a bit of energy I was able to
get them to quiet down a bit!
I think there's more to it than using up a bit of energy. John
had also shown the dancers (not merely told/lectured them) that
he had something to offer that was fun. I think that could have
done at least a little toward making them willing to attend to
whatever he was about to present next (which is not to say that
the chance to let off some steam mightn't also have helped).
[John, do you agree?]
Jeremy Child suggested
To quiet a room I use the Girl Guides technique:
I raise my hand, and anyone who sees me knows to stop talking and raise their hand too.
More notice this (other peoples hands up and slightly diminished volume). This snowballs
quite quickly as peer pressure kicks in, and is a very effective technique. You have to
teach it to them first, of course, but they pick it up quite quickly.
and Linda replied:
Oh how I wish that would work. I've tried that
technique over the years. They just ignore me. ...
I'd be interested in learning more details from Jeremy, or
anyone else who has had success with the raised hand technique
of quieting a room. For example: What country do you (mostly)
work in? Were you dealing with people who might already have
learned (and bought into) the idea that "When the hand goes up,
the mouth goes shut" in some other setting such as Girl Guides
(or Girl Scouts in the US)? If you were dealing with young
folks (what age?), were there also other adults around who were
already authority figures to them and who might make their
disapproval known if the youngsters ignored your raised hand?
Most significantly: I'm no psychologist, but it seems to me
that this sort of thing is most likely to work if the dancers
are convinced (a) that you have something to tell them that's
worth hearing and (b) that if they keep talking they're
liable to miss it. What do you do to convince them (or at
least get them to grant provisional acceptance) of those
points at the start of the event? Also: Have you ever worked
with groups (what kind?) where the raised hand didn't work any
better for you than Linda reports?