How to get inside the heads of your audience
Winning over your audience is a key skill for any speaker, and you do not have long to make that winning impact. Your audience is your major concern. Without an audience, who needs a speaker? This article gives some tips and advice on how to grab them from your opening statement.
Copyright (c) 2007 The College Of Public Speaking
For those faced with the awful spectre of delivering a
As long as the message has been delivered and reinforced (usually by distracting and overloaded PowerPoint slides) that's the job done. Thinking about how to win over the audience is the last thing on people's mind but it is absolutely crucial.
Remember to grab your audience's attention from the outset, otherwise you will have lost 90% in the first five minutes; that should be regarded as a catastrophe, but regrettably it is alarmingly common.
In recent years I have made a point of asking people what they thought about a presentation that we have all sat through and it is truly horrifying how many people very quickly went off into their own dream world, so dull was the presenter.
Imagine that for most inexperienced speakers they will have lost 90% of their audience in the first five minutes.What are the steps to winning over an audience?
Firstly - know them (if you can) and as early as possible get in a statement that you know they can identify with. Imagine a politician addressing an audience of business people all of whom are running small independent operations and that politician's opening remarks being 'Red tape is strangling this country and impeding the ability of our entrepreneurs to thrive. We will reduce this burden at a stroke by taking the following actions...'
As long as the actions made sense to the audience they will have been won over completely and utterly. The rest of the speech will now be so much easier to deliver.
Compare this to a speaker with an audience comprised solely of people working within finance departments being greeted with the remarks 'this initiative will allow us to reduce those working in finance areas by 50%'.
No great surprise to hear that this initiative was resisted with all the gusto of a sprinter trying to win Gold at the Olympics!
Secondly - when you deliver this audience winning statement look them straight in the eye as you say it and see how the audience rapport builds as they look back at you. Feel the bond forging between the two of you as they do.
Thirdly - when you have finished delivering that winning statement pause briefly to allow the audience to absorb the statement and quite possibly shake their head in agreement.
Fourthly - during the rest of the speech engage with the audience by asking them rhetorical questions knowing that their answers are going to be in the affirmative.
Finally - and this particularly applies to a speech over ten minutes in length; use humour to lighten the mood. This will ensure that the attention of the audience never drifts off.Knowing that you have won an audience over is one of the best feelings in the speaking world.
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