Gary Genard's

Speak for Success!

"Be a voice not an echo." - Albert Einstein

Audiences Want to Like You — Here's How to Make It Easy For Them

Audiences Want to Like You — Here's How to Make It Easy For Them

Does public speaking make you anxious? Audiences are on your side! Here's how to make it easy for audiences to like you.


You really love public speaking audiences don't you . . . large groups and the leadership team especially, right? No? You should!

The audiences you speak to in pitches, speeches, presentations, and meetings want you to succeed. In fact, they'd like nothing better. Believe me, if you give them what they're looking for, they'll love you.

Want to hold an audience in the palm of your hand? Speak to lead! Discover how in my book, Speak for Leadership: An Executive Speech Coach's Secrets. OAmazon

Dr. Gary Genard's book on speaking as a leader, Speak for Leadership.

That's because most people listening to you want to be there. And they would sincerely like their time and effort to get there to be worthwhile.

They're the good guys. It's only our anxiety and lack of self-confidence that makes them into that scary word we conjure up: a crowd. Presenters (especially anxious ones) often use that term to describe the people they'll be presenting to. I don't know about you, but to me, "crowd" is only a few steps away from "mob." Maybe it's because I've been a performer all my life, but I think the word "audience" is a wonderful term that perfects describes what's going on when you present: you as the speaker, and a group of people you're performing for. What could be nicer?

How is your relationship with "the people in the seats?" Become an unforgettable speaker with my Free cheat sheet, "5 Ways to Captivate an Audience." Download it now!

Welcome to Your Community

Still not convinced? Think of it this way: a live performance (including public speaking) is a form of community. It's a shared moment that is really something unique—an interaction that can only occur in the here and now. 

Another word for that situation is: opportunity. In another important way, however, just the opposite is true of public speaking (speeches and theatrical performances share many paradoxes like this one). There's really nothing special about it. It certainly is an unbeatable chance to get people interested in your ideas, products, services, or to give them important updates or other critical information. But it's very much a part of the performances you give every day. That is, you are always presenting yourself in ways that you think meet the needs of the situation and the people present. We even have a saying for it: "When in Rome, do as the Romans do."  

Since you do that day in and day out, giving a speech or presentation—even an important one—should be easy for you. There really aren't too many overwhelming obstacles waiting for you out there on stage. The truth is, you create them, and then you may wonder why they seem to have your number and are so damned difficult to overcome!

Are you ready to get rid of those obstacles? Learn how in my book, Fearless Speaking, named "One of the 100 Best Confidence Books of All Time." On Amazon.

Dr. Gary Genard's book on overcoming stage fright, Fearless Speaking.

Want Audiences to Like You? — Be Yourself!

A nutshell version of the lesson here is this: be the same person you are when you're among friends or family and are not self-conscious. Think of the "you" hanging out at a cookout, or telling a joke, or describing an exciting moment in a football game or movie. In those situations, you look, sound, move, and respond like yourself to whatever is coming your way. That's exactly the person your public speaking audiences want to see and hear!

What about when you have to stick to a script or slides? The key is your audience! Learn more in my Free resource, "How to Read a Speech and Still Be An Effective Speaker."

Here are four nuts-and-bolts hints from this actor and speech coach to help you get there:

  • BreatheMoments of anxiety truly mess up your breathing. Rapid shallow breaths and a pounding heart is not only an unmistakable response (the "fight or flight response"). They also remind us that we're in a situation we desperately want to get out of. Nothing brings you back into the present moment—and into your body—like full, natural breathing. Whenever you feel like you're losing control, stop and breathe. Even a couple of deep breaths will help get your equilibrium back. Remember, the audience just wants you!

Do you suffer from stage fright? Learn how to enjoy public speaking and be dynamic instead. Download my Free resource, "How Breathing Can Help Control Your Fear."

  • Smile. Just as emotional states result in a physical response (when you're sad, you cry), the opposite is true. By assuming a physical stance, pose, or position, that bodily response will help elicit the emotion you're looking for. (Okay, now, stop that slouching and sit or stand straight! . . . Didn't you suddenly feel more confident and even energetic?) Have you heard the expression, "Smile and you'll feel better?" It's true. Plus, your audience will like and trust you more—as long as the smile is genuine. Start with the corner of your eyes, for that's where smiles begin, not with the mouth.
  • Move. Moving while speaking helps your thinking process, and therefore, your speech. That's a concept known as "embodied cognition." Haven't you noticed how often you get new ideas when you're in the shower, driving, or taking a walk? Also, standing stock-still on stage, as you do when you're behind a lectern, is unnatural. Don't let you and your ideas become calcified! Move and gesture the way you do in the "rest" of your life. Again, that's the real you.
  • Speak. What I mean here is, speak with your natural warmth. To do that, see Breathing, above. Getting a full reservoir of air gives your voice a cushion, so that it sounds mellow and inviting. Shallow breathing (as in, "I'm so nervous up here, I'm forgetting to breathe!") gives your voice a thin and strident quality. If you think that you naturally have a harsh voice, I probably would disagree. Training for voice improvement is an accessible and productive tool within anyone's grasp.

Learn more about developing your voice for meetings and presentations. Download my Free Tips and Tricks Guide5 Ways to Improve Your Voice As a Professional.

You'll find hundreds of other articles on successful public speaking in my blog page. For now, help yourself by allowing audiences to like you more per the above. 

There's this consideration too: Although they won't know it, you'll be helping your listeners just as much as you're aiding yourself. That's because audiences accept and retain more information, and are more engaged emotionally, when they're listening to a speaker they like. 

{That's your cue.}

You should follow me on Twitter here.

Cropped headshot for Speak for Leadership back cover -- 8.30.21

Gary Genard is an actor, author, and expert in public speaking and overcoming speaking fear. His company, The Genard Method offers live 1:1 Zoom executive coaching  and corporate group training worldwide. In 2022 for the ninth consecutive year, Gary has been ranked by Global Gurus as One of the World’s Top 30 Communication Professionals. He is the author of the Amazon Best-Seller How to Give a Speech. His second book, Fearless Speakingwas named in 2019 as "One of the 100 Best Confidence Books of All Time." His handbook for presenting in videoconferences, Speaking Virtually offers strategies and tools for developing virtual presence in online meetings. His latest book is Speak for Leadership: An Executive Speech Coach's Secrets for Developing Leadership Presence. Contact Gary here. 

Main photo credit: Jamie Street on

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