How To Better Connect with Your Audience as a Speaker
While up on stage, there’s no question that the content of your speech or presentation is important. However, what’s even more vital is connecting with your audience.
If you fail to establish a rapport with your audience, your message will be lost on them – regardless of how great it is.
The problem is that some speakers struggle to naturally build that affinity with their audience and instead rely on canned jokes or generic anecdotes. But don’t worry – there are simple, practical ways that you can connect with your audience as a speaker and get them more engaged in what you’re saying.
So let’s take a look at some of my quick tips for better connecting with your audience.
Tip #1: Speak To Them, Not At Them
This one is pretty simple, but it’s also very important. When you’re up on stage, always remember to look at your audience and make an effort to engage with them rather than simply focusing on the slides/monitor or reading off of a notecard.
One of the ways to make your speech or presentation less sterile is by walking around on stage. This will help you to better connect with members of your audience who are sitting in the back or on the sides. Plus, it also helps break up the monotony of someone standing in one spot for an extended period of time.
While you’re moving about the stage, making eye contact with audience members is also an absolute must. It is always better to meet their eyes individually rather than simply staring out at a sea of faces.
Tip #2: Involve Your Audience
There’s perhaps no better way to connect with your audience than by physically engaging them at opportune moments within your speaking slot. This could take the form of asking them questions, polling them, or getting them to participate in interactive activities on stage.
For example, you could ask your audience members to raise their hand if they’ve ever struggled with a certain problem that you’re talking about; or collect feedback from them on different topics throughout your presentation. Not only does this help keep your audience engaged, but it also shows that you care about what they have to say and value their input.
Tip #3: Connect With Your Audience Emotionally
While facts and figures are important, connecting with your audience emotionally is vital. Talk about how and why your speech topic should matter to them. Perhaps you’re discussing a new product that will save them time or a service that will make their life easier. In that case, help them imagine what their lives will feel now that the problem has been taken care of with your nifty solution.
If you are able to evoke an emotional response from your audience, they’ll be more likely to remember what you said – and, more importantly, why it should matter to them.
Tip #4: Establish Connections Through Storytelling
Storytelling is another essential tool in building that affinity and connection with your audience. When you’re telling stories or personal anecdotes, try to focus on the plot as well as the delivery, and avoid making them too long or veering away from the subject matter at hand.
Your stories should aim to be interesting, relatable, and capture your audience’s attention from beginning to end.
It’s also important to be as genuine and vulnerable as possible when sharing these stories. To really connect with your audience on a personal level, let them see the real you – they’ll be more likely to connect with you in return.
Tip #5: Utilize Humor
I’ve always said humor is your best friend when trying to break down those initial walls put up by audience members. I’m not saying you should try and be a stand-up comedian, but if you can work some light humor into your presentation, it will go a long way in helping you to connect with your audience.
Just be careful not to overdo it or make any potentially offensive jokes that could backfire. And if you’re unsure about whether or not something is appropriate, err on the side of caution and skip it altogether.
Tip #6: Link Up with Your Audience Members Afterward
Finally, don’t forget to meet and greet your audience members after your presentation is over. Whether it’s shaking their hand or simply saying thank you, this is an excellent opportunity to network and further cement that connection you’ve worked so hard to build.
And if you want to capitalize on your efforts, why not exchange business cards with them and follow up with an email later on down the road? You never know when they might need a speaker or know someone who does.
Meet Wendi McNeill
As the Founder and Owner of Charli Jane Speaker Services®, Wendi has been “Opening Doors of Opportunity” for speakers since 2002.
Charli Jane Speakers provides speakers with support, exposure, tools, tips, speaking and media leads, coaching/learning programs, and much more to assist them in growing their speaking business.
When it comes to Wendi’s clients she is very passionate and laser-focused about how they can grow their speaking business to levels of great success and fulfillment. They work together on strategies to quickly & easily position them as the top expert in their subject matter.
The results are success, financial freedom, and limitless lifestyle choices. Her primary objective is to help speakers/experts properly position themselves so they can get found easily, fill their speaking schedule and increase their income to incredible levels. Also, through the development of multiple streams of income, her clients learn how to rely on more than speaking fees alone to sustain their businesses.
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