The Audience and You

How Do You Close the Distance?

When you feel close to someone, you know them, trust them and can nearly always understand their point of view. Sadly, as a public speaker you don’t have the luxury of being able to develop such intimate links with all of your audience. So how do you maximise the time and opportunity in order to really leave a lasting impression on your audience?

Nowadays, it is becoming more and more common for business interactions and professional activities to be built on genuine and mutual grounds. This means that you need to know your opposite number like never before. Especially if you want to deal with them and hopefully begin a long term professional (and prosperous) relationship.

In speaking, you need to close this distance and build that rapport in a record amount of time. You don’t have to make an audience member your best friend by the end of your talk. But you want to have given enough, so that they feel compelled, interested and intrigued to reach out to you after you have left the stage.

You break these walls down, by using a combination of verbal and non verbal techniques. This list is by no means exhaustive, but you can see a theme and you can test out your own individual hallmarks.

  •  Your clothes should convey a smart, but approachable personality. Look credible and respectable without coming across like your a golden demi-god of your profession.
  • Introduce yourself straight away, state your reason for being on the stage but also don’t forget to say your first name, If you have a short version of your name use that.
  • Try and start your presentation with a story, granted not all situations are ideal. But a story give your an audience a journey they can take with you. Plus it makes things less boring!
  • Don’t stand behind props if you don’t have to. An open and close space between you and the audience builds trust and connection. Remember personal space though..
  • There are a plethora of language and writing devices you can use to spark the audience and make them think outside of the ordinary. Making your limited time much more memorable. (This will get it’s own Blog in the near future).
  • People understand contrast, so give them noticeable contrasts. show the before and after. don’t just tell someone the ‘after’ give them the barometer to see the difference and see the real results.
  • Welcome questions at the end. when acknowledging someone for their question, kindly ask their name. Then you can say ‘Thank you for your question Amanda, the greatest scientist in my opinion is Werner Von Braun.’ Incorporate the persons name and their question into the answer. It shows you are engaged and wanting a friendly exchange. It relaxes and encourages others, while really connecting with the audience. Play with this technique and find your fit.
  • If you are intending to stay after your talk, make sure you express this. People may be nervous, embarrassed or perhaps interested to ask you something but not in public. this opportunity is really a great way to network and offer more value as your time on stage may be limited.
  • Take contact details in the form of cards. Whether business or contact cards, they will give someone a physical token and reminder of your exchange.

I have put these in a kind of order of events that generally occurs when arriving at a venue for a speaking event or work related commitment. Sometimes refreshments and the ‘meet and greet’ take place before the talks. Be able to react to this and have yourself prepared for the stage as well as the networking opportunities.



Author: Will

Hi, I'm Will. Founder and Lead Coach at Lib-Orator, a public speaking and sales training specialist.

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