We all know the old adage “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” I remember my own mother drumming this into my head when I was going for my first job interviews and, of course, she was right. And today’s “influencer” market is no different than 30 years ago; in fact, audience engagement is probably even important today, with the advent of social media and constant exposure to video channels like Instagram, Snapchat, and Youtube.
We, as communicators and speakers, are always ‘on’, always being judged, watched, or even being posted on social media if you present on a regular basis. We constantly have to represent ourselves, whether it’s in a business meetings, giving presentations, speaking at industry conferences, or even fundraising for our startup businesses. There’s no escape from it. We have to present ourselves well or lose out to the competition.
And there’s no excuse for not grabbing an audience from the minute you step up to the plate. In fact, to give yourself an edge, here are a few tips to help you with audience engagement and pave the way to an audience being a little more susceptible to your charms as a speaker.
1.Do Your Homework
First off, do your homework. This can be anything from rehearsing your presentation or speech to knowing your audience before you step on stage. All the preparation you do will pay off in dividends if you do it clearly and strategically. Craft your message. Practice your delivery. Ask who your audience is and why they should listen to you because remember: Audiences are selfish. They are always asking themselves ‘What’s in it for me?’ and if they don’t hear it in the first 30 seconds, they’ll be looking for the first opportunity to tune you out.
2. Get A Top Dog Introduction
Next, have the top dog introduce you. For those of you who present on a regular basis for your company at international meetings, presentations, or conferences, you’ll more than likely be introduced by someone else. When at all possible, have that person be the highest person in the company. This will give you automatic street cred with an audience that may not know you. It will ensure audience engagement from the outset
3. Get An Alternative Introduction
Thirdly, if it’s not possible to get the top person to introduce you, then go for the next best option of convert influence. Basically this means get a client or someone the audience knows to introduce you. It may not be the top dog but remember, audiences trust what they know, they trust what is familiar to them. So if someone gets up there and speaks from the heart about you and what you’ve done to make a difference in their professional life, you’ll already have scored points with the audience in the credibility department before you even open your mouth.
4. Harness The Power Of Social Media
Next, never underestimate the power of social media. These days people meet each other on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and even Youtube before they see each other in the flesh. There are so many social platforms to choose from and if we go by the law of 6 that advertisers follow (it takes 6 ‘yeses’ to make a sale) then hitting your perspective audience in 6 different social media outlets will let them know who you are and make them familiar with your accomplishments before you meet them. Basically, you’re branding yourself. LinkedIn, webinars, Facebook Live, direct mail, event hashtags, Instagram, Youtube; all these are kosher forms of contact for reaching out to your audience before you meet them.
5. Do The Warm Up!
Lastly, warm up before you go on. This might seem like an optional tool but trust me, it isn’t. You want to be ‘on’, in the moment, and ready to go the minute you hit the stage because you do not get a second chance to grab your audience’s attention. You don’t have the luxury of ‘warming up’ and letting yourself get into the swing of things for a few minutes once you get up there. Audiences are smart. They’ll see you haven’t prepared and they’ll wonder why you’re wasting their time.
Physical and vocal warm ups are excellent ways of getting focused and getting out any nervous energy that might be restricting your voice or thinking. Everyone has their own ritual before they go on or get up in front of people to communicate. EVERYONE. Whether you’re Tony Robbins or Barak Obama, everyone does something.
In using some or all of the above tips, you can give yourself the edge you need to captivate, interest, and motivate your audience before you even open your mouth. Prepare, know your audience, and reach out. Grab that cred beforehand and you’ll get that all important audience engagement more creatively, efficiently, and effectively.
As you are here, you might like these;
ConfidentSpeak is a Voice and Communications consultancy based in Dublin, Ireland. We have worked with leading Irish and international companies and executives. Contact us for details on our range of corporate/private programmes for executives, sales teams and technical professionals.
ConfidentSpeak is a specialist S.T.E.M Communications & Coaching Consultancy based in Dublin, Ireland. We work with leading Irish and international companies and executives at home and abroad. Contact us for details on our range of corporate/private programmes for executives, sales teams and technical professionals.