When you’re thinking about the public speaking skills you need to succeed, it pays to think first and foremost about your audience. Here are seven things every audience needs to keep them hanging on your every word.
By Olivia MacDonnell, Confident Speak
When speakers are building their public speaking skills and making all the necessary preparations and arrangements for their talk, there is one thing that often happens—they might spend hours of prep on a single slide, but neglect to really prepare to serve their audience!
So if there’s one vital piece of advice to give for you in any environment where you’re talking in front of an audience—from sales presentations to staff meetings to a keynote address to a packed auditorium—make sure to take note of the following seven tips to better serve your audience.
Start thinking about your poor audience – they are busy too! and they’ve given up their time to listen to you! This is what they need:
Honing Public Speaking Skills through Audience Connection, 1: A Reason to Listen
An audience will not listen to you unless they know why they should – it’s as simple as that!
So, you need to make it very clear from the start why your presentation is important to them.
What’s the benefit?
What are the consequences?
They need to know WIIFM—the “what’s in it for me?” question.
Fail to take note, and you might not have an audience at all.
Honing Public Speaking Skills through Audience Connection, 2: Life Made Really Easy for Them
When you’re doing your talk prep, make sure to structure you message simply and clearly.
If you’re inexperienced find out about basic structuring for a presentation.
I always this it’s useful to think of “the audience” as friends.
And the truth is, subconsciously no audience wants to work hard. They don’t want to wade through complex slides trying to figure out what exactly they need to do. Structure things as simply and clearly as you can to make life really easy for any audience.
Honing Public Speaking Skills through Audience Connection, 3: Simple and User-Friendly Language
Stop using jargon and complex language—immediately!
There’s a misconception about complex language. Some people think it makes them sound more intelligent.
But the truth is it doesn’t. Jargon and complexity is much more likely to bore, alienate and frustrate your listener.
So avoid that at all costs and use a conversational style with matching language.
Believe me—it’s no less professional. In fact, it’s much more professional!
Honing Public Speaking Skills through Audience Connection, 4: A Relevant Message
I suggest every point you make ask yourself this question.
Why would this be remotely relevant to the listener?
If you think it is or should be relevant to them, then ask yourself a second question:
How am I making this relevant and understandable to them?
Every point you make needs to be in “audience context”.
Honing Public Speaking Skills through Audience Connection, 5: A Memorable Message
If they feel they are being talked to, as opposed to talked at, they are more likely to remember your message.
Using “I”, “we” and “our” involves the audience as if they are on the journey also, and if we are involved, suddenly things become much more memorable.
Using personal experiences, personal stories and memorable examples is a good start
There are plenty more approaches, but do avoid making stuff up.
It can be very obvious and can sound false to the audience.
Honing Public Speaking Skills through Audience Connection, 6: To Feel That You Really Believe Your Message
If your voice lacks energy and emotion, your audience will tune out.
So ask yourself, what emotion do you want your audience to feel?
Interest? Excitement? Curiosity?
Whatever it is, you then need to convey this emotion in your voice.
It sounds like an obvious presentation skill, but just thinking about what you are saying and how you would like the audience to feel it very powerful.
So many presenters just present like they are “going through the motions”.
An audience needs and expects more.
Honing Public Speaking Skills through Audience Connection, 7: You Staying Connected From Start to Finish
There is no point having a great, memorable first 45 seconds and then revert to a complex, irrelevant message for the remainder of your presentation.
A great colleague of mine uses the analogy of a “travelator” (those flat moving stairs you see in airports) when giving a presentation.
The audience needs to step on the “travelator” at the beginning with you and move with you through your presentation and gets off the end with you.
They need to walk away from your presentation knowing what they should do, think and feel as a result of listening to your entire presentation.
ConfidentSpeak is a Voice and Communications consultancy based in Dublin, Ireland.
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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.