How to Get Your Message Across to Your Audience
By Patricia Fripp
Both business and professional speakers always need to ask themselves “How do I best connect with my audience?” “How do I get my message to stick?” “How can I get my audience to listen and engage?”
My long time friend, early mentor, and all around expert on PR and marketing Dan Janal wrote a very good article about an experience we were both part of at the recent National Speakers Association convention.
I must admit, I am one of the people who would much rather listen to an expert speak than be at the mercy of some of the pathetic questions from many audience members who appear to want their opinion heard rather than ask a genuine question the whole audience can benefit from.
Both Dan and I are interested in what YOU think.
Advice to Speakers: Shut Up!
By Dan Janal
Futurist Jeff Jarvis nearly caused a riot at the National Speakers Association conference when he told speakers that audiences wanted to hear speakers less and audiences more.
He advocates that speakers give a bit of content from the platform and then take advantage of the collective wisdom in the audience. In fact, his keynote speech incorporated that element of give and take.
If you think about it, it sounds like what you’d expect a college professor to say. And Jarvis does teach media course at CUNY. Teachers teach a point and then ask students for opinions, reactions to hypothetical situations and to debate points from the readings. Learning becomes a shared experience.
I’ve used this format in my speeches and training. When I taught a class in public relations at Berkeley, all the students in my class held fu ll-time PR jobs with the city, large non-profits, arts and prestigious technology companies. There was a wealth of information in that room and we all learned from each other.
The evaluations from that class were nearly uniformly glowing. One person hated that system as she wrote in her evaluation, “I paid good money to hear Professor Janal teach but everyone else in the class couldn’t keep their mouths shut.” She didn’t get it.
And neither did many speakers who commented on Jarvis’ insights.
They thought they were the main show. In some cases, it is hard to disagree. Many speakers have something to say and they are getting good money to say it. And some people in an audience love hearing the sound of their own voices even if they have nothing to say. We’ve all seen extremes on both sides.
So here’s where Jarvis brings true insights.
Audiences have changed the model, even if some speakers haven’t seen it.
Audiences are asking questions in person and, with their mobile devices, posting info on social media sites. They are also checking facts as soon as the speaker utters their messages. If they are wrong, they are dismissed.
To argue that Jarvis is wrong is superfluous. It’s like arguing that a tsunami is not coming when you see the storm patterns brewing.
Audiences have changed and speakers need to change with them.
In fact, Jarvis wasn’t the only speaker to urge presenters to change their style. Several experienced speakers who offered mentoring sessions to other speakers, noted that the Broadway theatrical style of speaking is not connecting with audiences any longer.
Otherwise, they will be victims of the tsunami.
What do you think? Should speakers talk less and facilitate more?
You can email Dan at email@example.com or check out his information at http://www.danjanal.com.
If you are in the Minneapolis area on Saturday, October 6, 2012 you can even come and talk to us both.
Dan has invited me to address the MN chapter of NSA.
Patricia Fripp, CSP, CPAE Presents…”How To Create A World Class Presentation”
October 6, 2012 (Saturday) 9:00 AM-12:00 PM
Are you a good speaker looking how to be great? How about a great speaker ready to be awesome?
There is no better presenter to help you reach your speaking potential than Hall of Fame keynote speaker and in-demand executive speech coach Patricia Fripp.
Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.
As a caveat, I am a rabid fan of both Dan Janal and Patricia Fripp.
1. As professor, I am accustomed to using the audience as active participants to increase interaction. However, as soon as a presenter says “Do this at your table” or “”Share your thoughts on” I mentally and sometimes physically check out. I want to know what the expert thinks – that’s why I am there. If I want input from the people at my table, I will ask during a break.
2. But the point that many of the old-style speakers are unwilling to change to include their audience’s opinions at that moment is valid. Gone are the days when a canned speech works for multiple audiences. Talking heads with pithy phrases and old clichés just don’t work on today’s more sophisticated audiences.
Speakers have to engage their audience by knowing audience issues, asking the audience questions during the session, and solving audience problems at that moment. This takes far more research, far more knowledge, the use of technology, and far more flexibility on the part of the speaker.
But isn’t that worth it to change lives?
I welcome any thoughts as well.
Thanks Mary for being a fan. More importantly yout good comments.
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Thanks so much for reading and leaving a comment! Fripp