What Is The Key To Connecting With Your Audience?

Every speaker seeks to make a connection with their audience
Every speaker seeks to make a connection with their audience
Image Credit: Sara Lando

When we want to get our message across to one of our friends, how do we make this happen? That’s a simple question to answer: we have a conversation with them. Conversations are simple, natural things for all of us to have and they allow us to convey the importance of public speaking. However, for some odd reason when it comes time to give a speech, everything that we’ve learned from a lifetime of having conversations just seems to go out the door. Perhaps it’s time to bring some of our conversation skills back into our speeches in order to better connect with our audiences.

It’s All About Eye Contact

As speakers standing on a stage, we really don’t have a lot of tools in our toolbox with which to connect to our audience with. However, one that we do have is eye contact. I’m hoping that by now all of you have been told at one time or another that you need to make eye contact with your audience during your speech. However, what’s the best way to go about doing this?

When we’re having a one-on-one conversation with someone, eye contact is never an issue – we always stare directly at them. When we’re giving a speech, our goal should not be to make eye contact with everyone in the room. I call attempting to do this “machine gunning your audience”. Instead, pick people out of the audience in different areas and make eye contact with them. Hold that contact long enough to complete an idea, then move on to the next person.

Don’t Forget To Smile

How do you feel when you are giving a speech? If you are like most of us, you are under a great deal of pressure to do a good job. The last thing that you feel like doing is smiling; however, that is exactly what you need to be doing. Your smile is going to communicate a great deal to your audience.

What we need to remember as public speakers is that in addition to our words, we are communicating with our audience through our body language. This means that your face is telling a story also. You need to remember to smile while you talk so that your audience will feel like you are enjoying what you are telling them and your message will become more believable.

You’ve Got To Be Authentic

Finally, we’ve all seen used car salesmen both in movies and sometimes in real life. They are all bluster and not a lot of substance. This is exactly how we don’t want to come across to our audience. While you are delivering your speech, you need to find ways to get your audience to view you as being authentic.

Your audience wants you to be authentic – otherwise they’ll feel that they are wasting their time. What this means for you is that your speech is going to have to be a personal speech. If you read it off of a piece of paper it’s not going to be seen as being authentic. You want to communicate with your audience heart-to-heart.

What All Of This Means For You

In order for the next speech that you give to be a success, you are going to have to find ways to connect with your audience. This is a skill that we all have. We already connect with the people that we are having a one-on-one conversation with. Now all we have to do is to find ways to bring those conversation skills to your next speech so that everyone can have the benefits of your public speaking.

In order to make this kind of connection happen we’re going to have to do a number of things during our next speech. This includes taking the time to make eye contact with members of our audience. We need to take the time to read their facial expressions so we can understand if our words are being understood. In order to warm our audience up to our message, we need to remember to smile while we are giving our speech. Keep in mind that your audience wants you to come across as being authentic – this will allow them to believe what you are telling them.

Giving a speech is hard work. Having a conversation with a friend is easy to do. Let’s take the time to study what makes our conversations work and then take what we learn when we’re building our speeches. This will allow us to create speeches that connect with our audiences and will provide us an opportunity to change some lives…!

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

Question For You: Do you think that you should smile during your entire speech or only during a portion of it?

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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 www.Toastmasters.org. 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

Did you know that every time you take a stage in order to deliver a speech, there are really two speakers standing up there? Yes, of course, you are one of them. You understand the importance of public speaking and have a speech that you’ve prepared, practiced, and are just about ready to share with your audience. However, it turns out that your body has its own speech that it is just about ready to deliver to your audience also. Where things can get interesting is when your body’s speech is different from the one that you were planning on giving.

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