Controlling Your Audience

Controlling Your Audience Graciously

By: Carla Cross, CRB, MA

“Controlling your audience”… sounds kind of harsh, doesn’t it? Yet, if you’ve ever led a training session, you’ve probably found yourself in one of these situations:

  • Someone in the back of the room is carrying on a side conversation
  • A discussion drags on and on, and you can’t seem to facilitate your way out of it
  • Aggressive dominates a discussion and you don’t know how to stop acknowledging him
  • Sally Dissatisfied takes issue with everything you say, and lets you know it
  • People get bored and start talking or, even worse, walk out

For about 20 years, I’ve led Instructor Development Workshops in Washington state, to help real estate instructors earn accreditation to teach clock-hour approved courses. When I tell people about my job, one of the most common questions I’m asked is, “How do you keep your audience interested and under control?

Gaining Control through Divide and Conquer

Most of the problems we get ourselves into as trainers/facilitators/presenters happen when we’re using the lecture or discussion as our primary delivery methods. If you rely only on these delivery methods to teach, you’re putting yourself in a box. Instead, use the principle I call Divide and Conquer.

Divide and Conquer utilizes delivery methods like case study, task force, and role play to put people into small groups and enable them to talk with each other. And, we all know how real estate professionals like to talk. This approach allows people to have their opinions heard and let off some steam, when necessary.

But what are you supposed to do while they’re talking? While your students or trainees are engaged in conversation, walk around, get close, and listen. Try it. Just getting close keeps people on track. Doing this gives you the opportunity to observe, comment, redirect when necessary, and stay engaged in the conversation, and where it’s headed.

What if those delivery methods aren’t working? You may have experienced a role play that fell apart, or a task force that didn’t work well. Ultimately, the responsibility lies with the facilitator. We have to be trained and skilled in organizing and facilitating these groups. If you need information on how to teach using these ‘alternative delivery methods’, take a look at The Ultimate Real Estate Trainer’s Guide.

Putting the Accountability in the Hands of the Audience

When you ‘Divide and Conquer’, you put more of the accountability for learning into the student’s hands, as it should be. When people are held accountable, they become more invested in the process. People learn from each other. They learn by doing. They learn by listening and participating. Take advantage of the truisms of adult learning and flex your delivery style. Give your learners some respect and accountability to facilitate their own, and others’ learning.

What’s Important?

The ability of the majority of the class to learn the material effectively. It’s up to you as training/facilitator/presenter to gain and use the skills that assure a great course experience. Keep honing those skills, and thank you for dedicating your experience to our industry!

Free Download: 2018-2019 State of the Real Estate Education Industry Report

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Carla Cross, CRB, MA

Carla Cross, CRB, MA, is president of Carla Cross Seminars, Inc. and Carla Cross Coaching, specializing in real estate sales productivity and If you’d management profitability—the people issues. Cross, an international speaker and coach, is the author of 7 books, several published by Dearborn Financial Publishing. Her latest book is the 4th edition of the wildly popular start-up plan for new agents, Up and Running in 30 Days. Writer of training courses for most of the major real estate franchises, she is a National Association of Realtors’ National Educator of the Year. Contact her at or 425-392-6914.