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Three ways to engage with the audience before you speak

Engaging with the audience before you speak is invaluable, it’s as valuable as what you say on the day. Here are some powerful preparation techniques you can use to create inroads into the hearts and minds of your audience.

Engaging with your audience is critical.

As you’ve probably noticed, the best television advertisements generate an emotional response from the viewer. Remember the Old Spice ad – how engaging was that? While you don’t necessarily have to make them laugh or move them to tears, your task as a presenter is to resonate with your audience.

Every audience is different.

Some audiences will be naturally easy to engage with, others tough nuts to crack. If you’re an MD giving an announcement to celebrate a highly successful quarter and improved incentives for your people, then you’ll be warmly received. If you are a local government representative at a public meeting, there to explain which side of the town will be badly affected by the new bypass road, then you’ll encounter much more resistance.

Regardless of the degree of difficulty inherent in your task, there are powerful preparation techniques you can use to create inroads into the hearts and minds of your audience.

Three ways to engage your audience before you speak:

1. Survey a few people who will be in the audience ahead of time to make sure you are in tune with their aspirations and concerns. This will also help you shape your content to be more meaningful for them.

2. Do some extra research into the major issues confronting your audience and deliver relevant insights or parallels from your own experience. People like hearing other perspectives; it broadens their understanding of their own issues and sparks ideas about their own solutions.

3. Get there early to meet and greet people, giving you the opportunity to assess the mood of the occasion and build rapport with your audience. The more people you can introduce yourself to and shake hands with, the warmer your reception will be when you start speaking.

The MD, before giving good news about the last financial quarter, can speak to key contributors and their colleagues. By actively displaying genuine acknowledgement of key contributors the message becomes deeper and has more impact through the power of giving credit. Drawing on specific anecdotes and accolades will gain even more credibility and respect.

For the local government official, researching the audience prior to the occasion may help to head off excess anger. For example, preface the talk with:

“We know that the road will disrupt the lives of several residents. I personally contacted as many of you as I could prior to tonight to make sure that I fully understood your concerns and, although we can’t fix everything, we became aware of some measures that would help to minimise the impact on you.”

While there are no guarantees of success in these situations, you give yourself the best chance of earning trust and respect.

Engaging with the audience before you speak is invaluable; it is as valuable as what you say on the day. What’s the point of having a great speech if you have no connection with your audience?

The presentability programs cover the key aspects of successful presenting, using techniques like these to help you increase your speaking impact in the shortest possible time.

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Michael Neaylon

Michael Neaylon

Michael Neaylon works with brands big and small, helping them maximise their brand impact and marketing strategy for increased sales online and face to face. A speaker, coach and consultant, Michael is also the director of marketing, training and performance company, MCME. Michael is author of the book, ‘True Brand Toolkit: How to Bring in Big Money for Your Small Business,’ now in its third print run.

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