Let’s say that you were going to go out and buy a new car. Now lets say that you didn’t get to make any decisions about what that car was going to look like. You don’t get to choose the color, the accessories, or even the type of car. When the car got delivered to you, how would you feel? I’m willing to bet that you’d have almost no connection to that car – it had not been customized for you. What this all means is that if you don’t take the time to customize your speech for your audience, then you’re going to get the same reaction: they aren’t going to feel any sense of connection with you.
Gather Your Information Before The Speech Starts
Somebody very important once said that “… all news is local.” The same thing can be said about any speech that you give: your audience really wants to hear about themselves, about what’s going on in their lives. If you have a generic speech that works for anybody, the truth is that it probably works for nobody.
In order to strike a balance between what you want to tell your audience and what they want to hear, you need to take the time to customize your speech for them. In order to do this correctly, you are going to have to do some work before your speech starts.
What you need to do is to take the time to meet some of the members of your audience prior to giving your speech. The reason for doing this is simple: you want to interview them. What you are looking to find out is why they are there, what their issues and concerns are. Everyone has a different story to tell, you want to get people to tell you theirs and then you want to either write it down or remember it.
Work The Information Into Your Speech
Once you’ve collected the information that you need, now it’s going to be time to work it into your speech. The goal here is not to dramatically change your speech or its main message. Rather what you are going to be trying to do is to add a “local flavor” to your speech that will allow your audience to feel as though the speech was created just for them.
One of the best places to add this local flavor is in the beginning of your speech. You can do this by adding a reference to an issue that someone that you talked to brought up. What you want to do is to tell your audience that you were talking to so-and-so and they mentioned that such-and-such was an issue. Then let everyone know that you’ll be addressing this issue during your talk.
The second place that you can locally customize your speech is on the backend. As you are wrapping your speech up, you can revisit the local issues that you brought up in your opening and assure everyone that they have been covered. By including local content in your closing statements, you leave your audience with the feeling that they’ve just heard a speech that was handcrafted for them.
What This All Means For You
As speakers, it can be all too easy to fall into the trap of giving the same speech over and over again – I mean, why not: you’ve gotten good at giving it. Doing this means that you are missing a fantastic opportunity to connect with your audience.
Take the time to meet members of your audience before you start to speak. Ask them about their cares and concerns and what they’d like to get out of your speech. Then use their input when you are delivering your speech and refer to them by name. Doing this changes what could be another generic speech into a customized learning experience for your audience.
Question For You: Do you think that it is possible to over customize a speech for a given audience?
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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
Have you ever been giving a speech when all of a sudden you thought to yourself “I wonder what they are thinking?” I mean, you’re standing up there running your mouth and the audience is sitting out there looking at you, but do you really know what’s running through their heads right then? If you did know, how would that change what you were saying? It turns out that the best speakers DO know what their audience is thinking and they DO adjust their speeches to match this. You can do it also – you just need to have emotional intelligence…