How To Win An Audience Over To Your Side

By the time that you are done with your speech, your audience can be on your side
By the time that you are done with your speech, your audience can be on your side
Image Credit: Lisa Risager

Think for a moment about the last time that you gave a speech. When you first started your speech, was your audience on your side? Did they share your view of the world? Or, more likely, did you have some supporters but most of the people in your audience were adopting a “wait and see” attitude to find out what you were going to say? If this is the case for you, then you need to find out how you can win your next audience over to your side.

Know Your Audience

Although this should really go without saying, I believe that it bears repeating. The one thing that none of us wants to do is to show up and give the best speech of our lives where we talk about something that our audience really just does not care about. If we do this, then we will have missed an opportunity to share the importance of public speaking. The other thing that we need be careful about is to make sure that we are addressing our audience at a level that they can understand – not too high, not too low.

In order to know your audience, you need to take the time to crawl inside of their heads. This means that you need to be able to answer the question “what’s in this speech for me?” The goal of your speech has to be to help your audience understand something better.

Add A Summary To Your Presentation

The one thing that no audience ever has enough of is time. Sure, they’ve agreed to show up at the start of your presentation to hear what you are going to say, but there is no guarantee that they are going to stick around for the whole thing. What this means for you as a speaker is that you are going to have to make sure that your speech contains an introductory capsule that contains a summary of what you’ll be telling your audience. By doing this you’ll let everyone know what is coming.

Of most importance is having you clearly state what action you are going to want your audience to take. After that, you’ll want to cover all of the major points so that your audience can get a grasp of what you are going to be sharing with them. You’ll want to share the goal of your speech and what you expect to accomplish right off the bat.

Use Reinforcement

Just because you say something does not necessarily mean that your audience is going to either believe you or go along with you. What this means for you is that you are going to have to make sure that your speech contains solid substance in order to back up what you are saying. What you want to be able to do is to win over your audience using solid reinforcement that is relevant to them.

You have to be able to back up your claims. One great way to go about accomplishing this is find and use a well-chosen example. In order to win your next audience over, search for your personal and relevant experiences that you can share with them in order to gain credibility and confidence. More often than not this will have a bigger impact on your audience than any studies or statistics that you might present.

Use Good Visual Aids

When we create visual aids to use with our speech, all too often we create them for ourselves. What is most important is that our aids need to be readable, focused on what we’ll be talking about, and they need to make a clear point. If your audience cannot read the slides that you are presenting to them, then all is lost.

One of the most common mistakes that presenters make is that they end up putting too much information on a single slide. You need to be very aware of how many people will be in your audience – aids for four people may be very different than the aids that you make for 400 people.

What All Of This Means For You

The reason that we give a speech is to use the benefits of public speaking to convince an audience about something. In order to do this, when you end your speech the audience needs to be on your side. The important point is that when you began your speech, there is a good chance that some or all of your audience was not on your side. What this means for you as a speaker is that during your speech you need to take steps to win your audience over to your way of thinking.

The first step in winning an audience over is to make sure that you truly know your audience. What this means is that you have to take the time to understand what will be in your speech for them. Since none of us ever have enough time, you need to start your speech out by including a summary of what you’ll be saying and what action you’d like your audience to take. Your audience is not necessarily going to believe what you are telling them. This means that you need to take the time to reinforce what you are saying with substance. If you choose to use visual aids in your presentation, make sure that they help get your message across and don’t pack too much information on a given slide.

We want every speech that we give to be successful. We measure our success by how big of an impact we have on our audience. In order to get our audience to do what we are asking them to do, we need to find ways to get them to be on our side. This can be done, it just takes an awareness on our part and action both before and during our next speech. Win your audience over and you’ll be able to change the world with your next speech!

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

Question For You: How many lines of text do you think that you can fit on a slide before it becomes too much?

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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Every speech that we give comes with its own set of goals. Sometimes we’re trying to convince an audience of something, sometimes we want to make them laugh, perhaps we just want to tell a great story and have them share it with us. No matter what your specific goal for a speech is, every speech shares a common purpose: we want to use the importance of public speaking to make an impact on our audience. We want their lives to have been changed in some way by having attended our speech. This is a noble goal to have, now just exactly how do we go about accomplishing it?