Good Speakers Know How To Work A Room

by drjim on September 21, 2010

Meeting Your Audience Is The First Step In Connecting With Them

Meeting Your Audience Is The First Step In Connecting With Them

Speakers who want to be successful know that they have to connect with their audience. How to do this is the ultimate question that we’ve struggled with for years. I’m not claiming that I have all of the answers, but when I recently gave a keynote speech I had a chance to practice my “working the room” skills…

Arrive Early, Make Friends

Making a connection with your audience starts with you taking the time to meet them. In my case, I had been invited to deliver the keynote speech at ProductCamp Chicago and the event was scheduled to start at 9:00 am.

I showed up at 8:30am – pretty much the same time as the folks who were setting up the event started to show up. This gave me a chance to meet the organizers before attendees started to show up and things got really crazy.

Since I was there I also had an opportunity to meet just able everyone who came when they arrived. This was no more than a handshake and a quick greeting. However, what it did was to transform me from “the keynote guy” into somebody that they actually know.

Talk, Talk, Talk

Once everyone had arrived, I really started to work the room. You’ve probably heard this phrase before, but knowing what it means is the trick.

In my case, I took the time to move around the room where the audience was assembling. I’d approach a group of two or three attendees and start to chat with them. Instead of saying “hi, I’m the keynote speaker” (that’s all about me), I’d say hi, ask for their names and ask them what they did for a living (all about them) . Most of the time we’d end up talking about what they did and why they were there and who I was or what I was doing there often didn’t come up.

Add Local Content To Your Speech

If you want to make the words that you say during your speech really connect with your audience, then you need to make sure that those words are words that they can relate to.

One of the simplest ways to make this happen is to work local content into your speech. I think that I can provide an example of this. During the discussions that I had with audience members before giving my keynote, I happened to discover that a number of them happened to be working in the casino gaming industry.

I was able to use this information to add local content to my speech. I worked a number of comments about “placing your bets” and “spinning the wheel” etc. into my speech. This was a wink and a nudge to the folks who were in the gaming industry and they all understood the references.

Leave Last, Make More Friends

All too often speakers think that when they stop speaking, their job is over. It turns out that this is not true. What folks don’t realize is that your opportunities to connect with your audience continue long after the actual speech is done.

When my speech was done, I attended other speeches that went on that day, ate lunch with folks, and generally tried to make myself as available as possible. I met some great people and also made myself more approachable to just about everyone who was in the audience.

What All Of This Means For You

The success of any speech that you give will be judged by the connection that you are able to make with your audience. The words that you use during your speech are important, but they don’t do the entire job.

To make a good connection, you need to make yourself available to your audience. This means showing up early, chatting with your audience, working local content into your actual speech, and hanging out after your speech is done to further connect with your audience.

As speakers it’s how you are going to be remembered by each audience that really matters. You control how this is all going to turn out. Take the time to really meet and interact with your audience and you’ll be remembered in a positive way long after your speech is over and done with.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: If you can’t arrive early, what do you think that you can do to connect with your audience?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Will these Internet crazes never end? Just in case you’ve been living under a rock someplace and haven’t heard about the “Twitter” revolution, guess what: it’s arrived and this time around as a public speakeryou should be an active participant.

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