How To Connect With Your Audience
Every presentation is a new and different experience determined by your topic, location and audience. Even though your material may be the same, many things will come to influence how you present your material, especially the demographics of your audience. Your audience makeup will influence how they hear what you have to say, how they experience your delivery and ultimately it will impact how connected they feel to you.
There are many factors when considering audience demographics, for instance; a predominantly female audience will respond to your content in a different manner than a mixed audience or a predominantly male audience. If there is an ethnic and cultural concentration in the audience you may have to adjust your material, speed of which you speak, as well as your gestures and body language. Different generations have had different life experiences and their past experience will impact their current values, all of which will influence your content and how you deliver it. You may give the same presentation a hundred times, but you must customize each presentation for your audience based upon who they are, where they've come from and what motivates them. This is all part of connecting with your audience at a deep and personal level. A professional would never consider giving a presentation to a new audience without clarifying who they are.
As a speaker you have the opportunity to connect with your audience long before your presentation. As soon as the client or meeting planner calls find out who these folks are by asking a series of questions. These are the questions that will ultimately help you customize your presentation, elevate your credibility and connect deeply with your audience.
Here is a sampling of the questions I ask. Questions to consider: - Age - Gender - Values - History (is there any organizational history relevant to the group) - Is this mandatory or voluntary attendance - What is the greatest change experienced in the last year - Who was the last speaker and what was the topic - If expectations were exceeded by my presentation what would have been accomplished? (this is a most important question).
This is only a sprinkling of the questions I ask my client. Not only does this help me connect with my audience once I'm in their presence, this process of questioning and interacting with the client/meeting planner almost always seals the deal.
If a proposal is required I design the proposal based upon the information I've received from my client, using their language and highlighting their expectations. I outline how I will reach their desired goals and remind them I'll contact them once again before the presentation to review our mutual expectations. This proposal process gives me an opportunity to put into writing what the client requested over the phone. My clients love to see that I clearly understand their needs.
With all this information in hand, by the time you're actually addressing the group you will know them well. I'll show up to the presentation an hour early, meet folks, shake a lot of hands and continue to ask a lot of questions. By the time I hit the stage or move to the front of the room I know my audience so well and as soon as I start talking they feel as though they know me. The audience and the meeting planner/client are astounded as to how "right on" the information is and how intuitive and insightful I am.
Intuition and insight do not have as much to do with it as preparation!
Lori Giovannoni is an award winning keynote speaker and bestselling author. Access her FREE eBook, So You Want to Be a Speaker by visiting http://www.lorigiovannoni.com/professionalspeaker.htm
Related Tags: skills, presentation
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