As an executive speech coach I often talk about the importance of connecting with your audience, both intellectually and emotionally. Fundamental to connecting with your audience is, building your presentation around a strong structure, telling vivid and authentic stories, and utilizing body language that supports your message. My friend and fellow presentation skills expert, Craig Harrison shares a few techniques to help you further connect with your audience. Consider how you might incorporate some of these into your presentation:
Tips for Better Knowing Your Audience
by Craig Harrison
- Learn about your audience before you speak. Ask questions, meet them informally, use polls, surveys, and questionnaires.
- Meet your audience members on their way into the room. Chat with them one-on-one and in small groups to learn more about them and identify commonalities.
- Use the African technique of “call and response” to engage and include your audience. “How many of you have children? (Wait for response.) How many of you ARE children?” (Wait for laughter!)
- Include your audience through generous eye contact that reassures audience members that you see them as individuals.
- Within your audience, speak to a person in the front, in the middle, and the back; speak to people on the left, to the right, in the center. Alternate where you direct your remarks.
- Remember, the shortest distance between people is often a smile. When you smile at someone they are likely to smile back.
- If you are from out of town, reference something local about the town, region, or state.
Topical references often connect you with your audience. Reference the local weather (which we all experience), the traffic jam on the way to the program, a recent event, etc.
- Remember that without an audience, you are not a speaker. Your audience members are the most valuable people in the room. Speaking is a collaborative experience. Share the spotlight with your audience members and they will respond appreciatively.
- Embrace humor that derives organically from the room, audience, setting, etc. Sometimes the best humor is accidental or originates from audience members. Indulge and embrace this form of co-created magic.
Professional speaker Craig Harrison, DTM is past District Governor of 120 plus Toastmaster clubs in coastal Northern California, past president of NSA Northern California Chapter, and founder and current dean of NSA Northern California Chapter’s Pro-Track Speakers Academy. He founded Expressions of Excellence!™ to provide sales and service solutions through speaking. Visit: www.ExpressionsOfExcellence.com For more articles, tools and tips for speakers visit: www.SpeakAndLeadWithConfidence.com.
Thank you Craig!
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