The moment I start to write a speech, the following lines from one of my “theme” songs go off in my head:
“Every face tells a story/No need to hide and lie/Every face tells a story/Yours is saying goodbye.”
The difference is that while the tune remains the same, the words become:
“Every speech tells a story/Audience response don’t lie/Every speech tells a story/Will they be saying goodbye?”
No, I’m not crazy. Every speech does tell a story and audience response does not lie. We, the audience could not care less how great your content is if you do not connect with us. We might be too polite to walkout but we do say goodbye in our minds. You should’ve been able to tell from our body language but you didn’t connect with us, remember?
Connecting with the audience, and early in the speech, is the single greatest asset a speaker can have. Why? Don’t look now… but the speech is not about you, it’s about your audience. So, how to connect with your audience? Read on.
1. Know your audience.
It’s called audience analysis and even the greenest of Public Speakers has heard of it. So why don’t you do it? When I’m in charge of a programme and I invite people to speak, very few ask about the audience. Most ask what to wear and if I’m paying. When they are awarded an appreciation just above “walk out” by the audience they comment unfavourably about the intelligence level of the group.
Apart from all the questions I ask before I begin to write, I arrive early at the venue and try to get to know a few people by name. When I am delivering my speech, I use their names at various points. This connects me not only to the “name owners” but the rest of the audience who is usually so impressed!
2. Be yourself and share it with the audience.
I have a terrific sense of humour and an “in your face” personality. That’s me, that’s what I bring to my speaking and writing. Nothing creates more distance between you and your audience than if you’re insincere. Now is not the time to be the Stand Up Comic just because somewhere you read “begin a speech with a joke.” You’re not comfortable telling jokes so just use any of the other 10 popular ways to start your speech. This will prevent you from being the joke.
3. Demonstrate confidence in your content.
You’re lucky. You’re what in my country is called a “Big Up.” Somebody researches and writes your speeches for you. Great! Is it too much then, for us the audience to expect you to collect that speech BEFORE you leave home for the event and edit it so that it becomes yours? How can you hope to convince us about anything when you’re stumbling over unfamiliar words and rushing through complex concepts?
For you not-so-fortunate folk like me, use a style of writing and delivery that you’re comfortable with and reflects your personality. Too many people believe that once you have to speak to more than five people at a time, you must use a style and tone from the days of Chaucer. You are wrong. This only makes you sound as though you borrowed the speech and prevents you from connecting with the listeners.
4. Tell personal stories.
Nothing connects like letting your audience know that you’re human. Don’t be afraid to share the story of how you arrived for the meeting too early – one week too early – to emphasise your point about the importance of using a personal planner.
I believe that story-telling is so important to adding zest to your presentation that as part of my public speaking training, I did the story-telling module. Any good salesperson will tell you that people buy with emotion and justify it with fact. It’s the same with making a presentation. Grab them on emotion, keep them with facts. I always have a story to tell. What’s your story?
5. Have fun!
Really, please do. I know you will say that I can say that because I’m a trained public speaker, but I was having fun first before I had all the training. So smile, show lots of enthusiasm and play with the audience. Think of the situation as having a conversation instead of delivering a speech. Don’t behave as though you’re at the dentist for a root canal. Have fun!
Now, can’t you begin using these tips right away? Yes you can. And when you do I’m sure you’ll be telling me that now you’re as good as I am! Well… not quite, but nearly.
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Lorna Barrow’s public speaking training spans twenty years and include training and coaching thousands of people to achieve their public speaking goals. Before your next speech, download her Basic Steps to Public Speaking Handbook from the Purchase Zone at http://www.itds-training.com so that you can stand up and speak, and sit down and smile. While you’re there, don’t forget to grab all the wonderful free stuff that awaits you!
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