“Let me leave you with the most important piece of information I can give you about how to be a more effective speaker, how to manage your fears and how to come up with the proper content. Think about the audience first and always. If you are constantly in tune with them, they will know you are sincere and that will be remembered most.”
That was how we left, last time. It is all about the audience. Everything we do really is. Think about that. Did you ever try to get your friends to do something they don’t want to do but you do? Remind them of where the benefit is to them and they will join you, if you don’t , can’t or there is no benefit to them then you are all alone, just as if you are standing on a stage and no one is listening. That is lonely.
Speaking in public to one or one hundred can be daunting if you don’t think of the audience first and foremost. How do you do this? Not that hard, assuming you are not totally selfish and if you are on this site, then I know you are not.
Here are a few ideas on how to know your audience
1) Test your material: Find similar people to those that you will be presenting to. I speak to groups about a variety of topics but the one that probably fits best with this audience is developing and delivering your 30 second elevator speech. While I attend many networking meetings it is fairly apparent that many folks want to deliver the best presentation they can, but sometimes include a bit too much. Before I delivered this as a speech, I spoke to many networkers about their speech and what I thought they should focus on. The feedback I received and the improvements I and others saw gave me the knowledge that the material was correct for that audience.
2) Meet the people before you speak: This is easy, you know your material and you know it is correct for your group you just need to make friends with the audience. Show up early for your presentation and meet the guests as they arrive. Let them know you are the speaker and what you will be covering. Chances are they will give you something that you can incorporate into your presentation. The benefit to that is your speech will be given to a friendly face. Also get to know a few names, 2 or 3 is fine and as you are delivering your presentation you can use the names. Between these two items your audience will sense that you have created a speech that is just for them. This will give you amazing creditability and will turn an audience into a room full of friends.
3) Look them in the eye: Let’s take a step back to grade school on this one. Do you recall the teacher snapping out your name when you were napping? I do, if you don’t. Mention a name when you are giving a speech and I guarantee you will get that persons attention. But after you do this a second or third time with different names the whole audience will be paying closer attention thinking that you will be using their name also. When you say the names of those you have memorized, look for them in the audience. Don’t worry about finding them just scan the audience. If you can find them, all the better, but at least they will know you looked for them
Taking these simple yet important steps before your presentation will help you turn the audience into friendly individuals and maybe some of those individuals into friends. And why would you be nervous knowing you are speaking to friends about a topic that you know is perfect and personalized for them.