Want to move your audiences emotionally? Use these three powerful tools of audience engagement and memorability.
Do you suffer from "Me-ism?"
When it comes to public speaking, we can paraphrase Hemingway in his great short story, "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place": Many have it.
It's perfectly natural: Given the in-the-spotlight nature of standing and delivering a speech, we think of ourselves and want to do well. But the measure of any presentation isn't how the speaker feels—it's what takes place in the minds and hearts of listeners.
Do you focus on delivering information instead of engaging listeners? If so, you need to learn how to enrich your relationship with the people in the seats! Learn how to make both you and what you say unforgettable. Download my essential cheat sheet, "5 Ways to Captivate an Audience."
Here are three powerful ways to make a difference to your listeners by getting your message across more successfully. After all, isn't that what speaker and audience together are hoping will happen?
Speak with Urgency and Passion
Recently, I worked with a client who had nearly everything going for him as a speaker. He was young, bright, and accomplished. He spoke easily and with great comfort, and he was brilliant at formulating a persuasive argument. The only problem was, he didn't sound like he really wanted to get his message across to listeners.
I thought long and hard about how to explain this to him. Fortunately, as always, I had the video camera on my side, and he was able to observe what I was talking about as we viewed and debriefed after his practice run. I told him I wanted him to think, every time he speaks, about how pressing the message he's delivering is to his audience. Why in fact does he need them to hear this, and how will they benefit? Here's how to achieve emotional power in your own speeches and presentations.
Of course he wants to reach and positively influence those he speaks to. The heart of the matter, though, is whether his audiences sense that he deeply believes what he's saying, and urgently wants to share it with them. So, do you show listeners how much you care? It's a question that not only this client, but all of us, should ask ourselves regularly.
Live in the World of Your Audience
As I mention above, public speaking can become a highly speaker-centric affair. "I'm the one on top of the mountain, so obviously I must become a master in the art of leading audiences to the promised land." Don't you believe it, brothers and sisters.
The audience is the raison d'être of our appearance—and any influence that occurs must be strongly in their direction rather than the opposite. So doesn't it make sense to plan, organize, and deliver our talks or presentations in terms the audience can understand and relate to? Cllick here to learn more about why you should perform an audience analysis for business presentations.
In both the planning and execution stages, we need to consider everything in terms of our audience's response. What references will resonate with them? Can they follow the logic of what I'm saying? How can I keep them engaged? And: what will they be thinking and feeling when I say this, at this time, in this way? The more you put yourself in their shoes and experience your talk from their point of view, the more surely you'll meet them where they live, changing their world for the better. That's the honest path to speaking with charisma, presence, and leadership.
Ask Questions Before You Tell Them Anything
Like all human beings, audience members learn best when they're invited to discover new things and take the crucial steps on their own. Too often, we think our job as a speakers is to tell audiences stuff—to deliver information we have and they need. (Sounds like we're on that mountain top again, doesn't it?)
As you can imagine, that mode of speaking isn't overly inviting for listeners. Nor is it very engaging. So instead, I advocate "asking many small questions." These can be actual questions or rhetorical questions for which you don't expect an answer—it doesn't matter. The point is: you've asked, and the minds of each listener will recognize that fact and respond. It's a prime way to remind the audience that they are the reason you're speaking, and to "touch" them regularly in your presentation.
Speaking of questions, do you know how to survive and thrive during Q & A? The question and answer session following your talk provides a tremendous opportunity to increase your credibility and influence. Just be sure you know how to negotiate the rough spots, challenges, and occasional quicksand. Learn how with my free speaker's guide, How to Survive the 7 Danger Zones of Q & A.
Want some examples? "Isn't that true?" "We've all noticed that in our industry, haven't we?" "So, what should we do about that problem?" "What do our customers want?" "What, then, are the next steps?" Those are just a few, but the possibilities are endless. You know what the questions should be for your particular audience, so you can engage, interest, get them on board, and activate them.
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