Getting up in front of a bunch of strangers can be a challenge for even the best public speaker. The really good ones realize that there is something that they can do about this: change strangers into friends. The challenge is that they don’t have a lot of time to pull this off. This is when your ability to “work a room” can really come in handy…
Ya Gotta Have A Goal
So there you are. You’ve arrived at your next speaking engagement early enough to mix & mingle with the audience before everyone files in and sits down. Why? If your goal is to convert this group of strangers into raving fans, then you’re going to have to have a goal.
Depending on your personality type, the event, the type of people in the audience, etc. your goals will probably be different from event to event. There is no one “correct” goal to have – this is a very personal decision. Possible goals can include trying to meet everyone in the audience, trying to make a few deep connections, trying to convince people to ask good questions during the Q&A session, etc.
What’s Your Message?
Long before you show up for your next speaking event, you need to decide what the key message that you want to share with people before the event will be. The most important thing that you need to keep in mind is to not just repeat what you’ll be talking about from the stage.
Instead, the message that you share with people before you begin your talk should lead up to whatever you will be talking about. If your speech is the solution, then your message beforehand needs to be about the problems that everyone is facing. By using this time to show people that you understand the problem, you’ll be assured that you’ll have their attention when you start to talk about how to solve the problem.
You’ve Got Two Ears – Use Them!
As important as it is to get your message across to the people that you meet before your speech, it is just as (and maybe even more) important for you to show them that you are a good listener. Taking the time to listen to your audience during these discussions is the best and easiest way to show them that you really do care about them.
Keep in mind that doing a good job of listening doesn’t mean that you just stand there with your mouth shut waiting for the other person to be quiet so that you can start to talk again. Rather, you want to actively listen and ask questions based on what you hear them say. This is how you develop real connections that will cause the person to whom you are listening to pay attention to you when you are speaking.
Details, Details, Details!
The whole purpose for you taking the time to show up early and talk with your audience is to try to win them over to your side long before you take the stage and open your mouth. What’s going to really make this happen is your attention to the little things.
When we first meet someone, we quickly size them up. If they come across as phony or shallow, then we discount them and move on to interact with others. You can prevent this from happening to you if you take the time to make good eye contact with people when you first meet them (yes, eye contact is important in one-on-one conversations just as in giving a speech).
Additionally, take the time to always be smiling. Would you want to approach someone and talk to them if they weren’t smiling? This simple gesture can really help you to connect with a lot of people very quickly.
What All Of This Means For You
As speakers, we all want our next speech to go well for us. One of the biggest challenges that we always face is trying to win the audience over to our side. It turns out that there is an easy way to make this happen: show up early!
Making the time to socialize with your audience before your big speech can go a long way in helping them to connect with you. In order to do this, you need to come prepared. You need to have a goal, a key message, and you need to take the time to listen to what people tell you.
When you finally take the stage, just imagine how much more confidant you can be. Having taken the time to turn an audience of strangers into a room full of friends is an investment that will pay off over and over again…!
Question For You: How early do you think that you should show up for your next speaking opportunity?
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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
The voice of authority is one that any audience will respond to. However, all too often you and I just don’t represent enough of an authority figure to command that level of respect from an audience that didn’t know us before we started to speak to them. If we want to wrap up our speech in a way that will leave a lasting impression with our audience, we need to find a way to use a voice of authority to deliver our last few words to them…