Over the last month or so, I've been working
on one of the most important skills a speaker can possess: Connecting
with the audience.
I'm sure you've seen
speakers who kept the audience at rapt attention the entire speech and
others who bored the audience from the very first word.
First, Most of the
problems with connection come from speaking at the audience rather than
with them. When you speak with the intention of telling the audience
your message, you risk boring them because you have not taken into
account the needs of the people you are speaking to.
When you prepare your
speech by first asking what the group you are speaking to wants, you
will better satisfy their needs.
Second, connection comes
from letting people in. In other words, let them know something about
you that makes you human to them. People are much more likely to listen
to speakers they can identify with. It does not have to be much but it
must be there.
Third, eye contact is
crucial, from the moment you step in front of the room to after you
conclude. This tells people that you are talking to them, not to the
wall, the clock or the PowerPoint presentation. Speaking is a two way
exchange and should be treated that way.
Fourth, enroll your
audience by asking them questions and sincerely wanting the answers. Ask
them questions they can answer with a yes and make it easy for them.
Once they believe that you are interested in them, they will be
interested in you.
Last, stick to the
subject they audience expects. There is nothing worse than going off
track and starting to talk about what you want to say and forgetting why
you are front of this group in the first place.