Public Speaking – You Cannot Take Your Audience for Granted

Speaker with Audience
Even with experience, it’s a mistake to think you should just wing it.

Preparation is the key to successfully delivering your presentations

Whether you are delivering a business or sales presentation, it’s a mistake to think you can just “wing it.” If you have years of experience in your industry or profession, this still holds true. Even professional speakers must prepare for and rehearse before each presentation.

My brother Robert Fripp, the genius in my family and an internationally acclaimed guitarist from the band King Crimson describes it this way: “Every time you put your foot on the stage, there is an assumption of innocence within a context of experience.In other words, Robert has played the guitar for 50 years, but he approaches each performance with the awareness that this is the first time, for this audience, in this venue, at this period in time.

While you may be experienced, it is a good policy to think of every assignment as new and fresh within its unique context. For example, if you’re a professional speaker, the last 300 audiences may have loved you, but you do not know if this next one will. You cannot take it for granted.

Most importantly, you cannot take your audience for granted.

Speaking success comes from preparation, rehearsal, and a focus on knowing and serving our audience. Consider what makes your audience unique and how you might connect both intellectually and emotionally. Whether you are speaking for the first time or the thousandth, here are a few strategies to help you give every audience your best:

  • Avoid the temptation to just “wing it.”
  • Begin preparing well in advance. You will thank yourself later!
  • Research your audience.  Take time to read industry, association, or company publications and familiarize yourself with your audience’s unique interests and concerns.
  • Customize or personalize your presentation for each audience.
  • Edit your presentation for clarity, specificity, and emotional connection.
  • If you plan to use visual aids, customize by adding the groups’ logo and make sure any images are representative of the audience. Don’t get too carried away with too many PowerPoint slides. An audience expects to connect with you – a real person speaking – not sit through an endless slideshow.
  • Rehearse, rehearse, and then rehearse some more.
  • Whenever possible, meet a few members of your audience before you take the stage.
  • Physically warm-up before your presentation.

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Executive Speech Coach and Hall of Fame Keynote Speaker Patricia Fripp works with individuals and companies who realize that powerful, persuasive presentation skills give them a competitive edge.

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“Thank you for your fantastic presentation for the Professional Speechwriters Association. You brought that combination so rare among conference speakers; style and substance in spades.” Sheri Saginor, President, Smart Speeches

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