Do You Want to Appeal to Your Audience?

Darren LaCroix reminds all speakers to periodically ask ourselves if we are are “…appealing or appalling?”

Do You Want to Appeal to Your Audience?
by Darren LaCroix

Create Your Keynote By Next Week by Fripp & LaCroix
Create Your Keynote By Next Week by Fripp & LaCroix

How many times have you been stuck listening to a presenter on an ego trip? A speaker who misses his or her own point by making it sound like their primary message to the audience is “It’s all about me” has forgotten one of the foundations of effective speaking: It’s all about the audience!

What does listening to speakers talking about themselves make you think and feel? Sitting through such a presentation can be appalling.

Audiences don’t respond to that kind of presenter even when the content is strong. Ironically, audience members will question the content because it comes from a speaker who is more impressed with themselves than their topic. Ouch.

Can you still learn from someone who makes it all about them? Of course, but you must work harder to separate the nuggets from the sand. If the audience isn’t in the mood to work that hard, the valuable content becomes valueless because it isn’t heard. Do you think that a self-centered speaker can be as effective as a presenter who makes it about the audience? Yes, it’s possible with an audience that’s willing to do the work.

What You Say and How You Say It
Content is King, and when choosing between two speakers with the same excellent content, the speaker who connects to the audience is the one who delivers the content. An appealing presenter creates a better experience resulting in invitations to return, higher fees, greater impact, and much better results with back-of-the-room sales.

The difference between appalling and appealing comes down to language and intent. Having good intentions for your audience is important, but this article is about the Language of the Listener.Let’s say that you’re out for coffee with a new friend. While enjoying your drink, your friend asks about you, your family, and your passions. They lean in and you can see their enthusiasm to hear your response. Do you feel connected? Do you find yourself more interested in them? Do you want to spend more time with them? Of course. They’re appealing.

How does it feel when a different new friend meets you for coffee, but instead of asking about you, they tell you all about themselves without even being asked. They tell you what they want you to know about them. They tell you how you should think and feel and what was good or bad. As they tell you story after story that you didn’t ask for, do you start wondering why they’re telling you this story and how it’s relevant to you?

How do you feel about your new friend after an hour of that? Even if the stories are interesting, do you want to see that person again? Though there are many factors in deciding whether you like a presenter, the speakers who speak about themselves start with a huge deficit. No matter how good the stories, speakers who are full of themselves won’t fill up their audience. Do you find those speakers appalling?

Most presenters aren’t even aware of their own language. In their internal perception, their speech is conversational. A speaker focused on how they sound to themselves has no room left to consider how they sound to the listener. I learned this principle from Patricia Fripp and Craig Valentine.

Choosing Your Words
What exactly do I mean? I’m referring to the language subtleties that make a difference in the feeling of connection to the audience. Often we hear a presenter say:
“I want to share with you…”
“I want to tell you a story…”
“I have three principles…”

Guess what? Your audience doesn’t care what you want to share or whether you want to tell a story! They care about hearing the story, so skip the “I” statements and just tell the story! Though subtle, language matters. Using audience-focused language makes all the difference in how digestible your content is. It also impacts how likable you are to your audience.
Do little word choices sound overly technical or too picky? It’s not. Whether we travel across the country or across town, we’re only given a few minutes to leave a lasting impression. If you’re anything like me, you want every advantage possible. So, what should we say?

“I want to share with you…”
Just share!
“I want to tell you a story…”
Jump into the story!
“I have three principles…”
“After this presentation, you’ll walk away with three principles…”
We know they’re your principles! I’ve made these same mistakes myself. Once in a while, I still slip. We don’t have to be perfect, but we should always be doing our best.

Make a “You Turn”
Another way to create a deeper connection and be more appealing is by asking “you focused” questions. It’s the same as the one-on-one conversation. It engages audience members’ thoughts. “Set up” your stories by first asking a “you focused” question. It helps create a connection as well. For example, “Can you remember how you felt just before your first presentation?” With the right question, you clearly communicate to the audience how the story you’re about to tell relates to them.
If your message matters, the words you say matter even more. It’s not important if you think you’re being conversational. Consider the language of the listener. In their mind, do you sound appealing or appalling? Most speakers are unaware how they sound to the listener. If we want to be less appalling and more appealing, appeal less to your own ego and more to your audience’s ego.
Patricia Fripp is an executive speech coach and public speaking expert. Darren LaCroix and the other presenters at Lady and the Champs are International Toastmasters World Champions of Public Speaking.

Darren LaCroix and Patricia Fripp are partners in World Champions Edge coaching community with Ed Tate, Mark Brown, and Craig Valentine. You can hear them all at Lady and the Champs 2013 How to Speaking Conference in Las Vegas.
Patricia and her friends are experts in public speaking, business presentations, sales presentations, marketing yourself and how to use social media to your advantage. These are all covered in Lady and the Champs.
You can listen, watch and learn for prior years as a value pack.
Lady and the Champs 2011 & 2012 Combo Pack