Hugh Gibbons' references and extra information
hunnybone for September 2012

for pharmaceutical physicians, colleagues and friends

at Work
PPhood for
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Auditing Audiences


How useful a member of a large audience are you?  Discuss the following.

EXHIBIT 1 To test the acoustics of the new Bayreuth theatre, soldiers came and sat on the floor.  Wagner said why they were his ideal audience.  They were all in their places before the music began.  They did not talk or fidget as it was being played. When it was over they made no pretense of having understood anything of what they had heard or seen - and so refrained from airing opinions about it.

EXHIBIT 2 "Wagner’s Parsifal is the kind of opera that starts at six o'clock and after it has been going three hours, you look at your watch and it says 6:20." (David Randolph, who got to conduct 170 three-hour-long Messiahs.) 

EXHIBIT 3 “Children are the most wonderful audiences.  What's struck me most is that that they watch so silently, until the end when they shriek and shout and clap.”  Actor Emma Thompson. 

EXHIBIT 4 Expert on the psychology of emotions, Dr Rob Briner of Birkbeck speaking at one of my Ahaa! evenings.  By the end of his first sentence (on the lines of “Is stress a myth?”) 10 people had their hands up, objecting.  In all, 42 out of the audience of 43 also put in their pennyworth during his 1-hour talk. 

EXHIBIT 5 Poet Dylan Thomas: “I went on all over the USA, ranting poems to enthusiastic audiences that, the week before, had been equally enthusiastic about lectures on Railway Development or the Modern Turkish Essay”. 

EXHIBIT 6.  The obituary of James Tye, Director General of the British Safety Council said: “He was a colourful, lovable and ubiquitous man, always popping up at conferences, taking copious notes, generous in his praise and acute in his criticism.”  I’ll echo that.  In another Ahaa! meeting, he gently intervened with a speaker: “Thanks very much.  But I seem to have lost a paragraph somewhere.  Would you mind explaining…” (And for me that’s since been a handy, polite, and engaging technique.)  Incidentally, he “shrugged off attacks by his critics claiming that he was an inveterate self-publicist.” That’s something worth remembering.  You can do yourself a lot of good by being an active member of audience. Here’s an example. 

EXHIBIT 7 In a briefing conference, the then Health Minister Ken Clarke launched, ahem, Rather Big NHS Changes.  At question time, up shot my hand - so others would know I was there, had been listening, and was someone prepared to challenge - and therefore worth knowing.  “Hugh Gibbons, Pharmaceutical Times.  Thanks very much.  But in all your proposals, the word ‘patient’ does not appear.  Have I missed a paragraph?”  Ken paused; for 10 long seconds. “I have no ready answer for that”, he wryly replied.  Someone thumped my back.  It was Margot James, then head of a medical communications agency and now an MP (alongside Ken).  With thumbs up, she said: “Good question; let’s talk at coffeetime.”  Win-win-win.

EXHIBIT 8 Salvador Dali: said to be his only public speech. “I will be so brief that I have already finished.”




For more information at any time, contact
The Conductor of Just1, Hugh Gibbons

Tel: 01344 451847

Write: 75 Qualitas
Roman Hill
Berks RG12 7QG
United Kingdom