When you have to speak whether in a team meeting or on a larger scale the biggest factor that separates those that speak with impact and can see tangible results for their efforts from those that don’t is the ability to have a two way relationship with the audience. The biggest tool in nurturing this relationship is the ability to read your audience.
Gaining this attention from the beginning is a big advantage and I covered this last week here.
Here are my top 5 tips to reading your audience
Know What You Audience Needs
When you plan what you are going to say, whether in detail or in bullet points as appropriate, ask how this meets your audience needs. Ensure that you know your audience, what their reason is for being there and what they would like to get out of being there.
For example, in a team meeting, you will be facing your team, what are the challenges they face in meeting your needs and how can you eliminate them? If you can provide these solutions, then you will grab their attention.
Another scenario could be addressing another workplace or a club. In this instance ask the organiser about those that attend. What are the aims of the membership and what challenges do they face? Then you can address those issues and that will make you speak with impact.
Match Your Language to That of Your Audience
It sounds obvious but use phrases, vocabulary and register that are in keeping with those of your audience. Unless it is a deliberate advantage do not politically alienate your audience or sections of it.
This is also true of appearance, so dress for the occasion. It does not always have to be business suit, it could be a smart casual event or I have spoken for youth organisations, so a more casual approach was more appropriate. Though be careful to be true to you and not parody your audience. If you fall foul of this you will speak with impact, but not the one you desire.
Your nonverbal language also must be moderated for your audience. If you are speaking to a conservative group, then keep your language factual. My youngsters in the example above reacted well to humour.
Vary the Speech
Make sure you use different paces and vocal intonation through out the speech to avoid sounding like a drone.
It is also good to vary the size of the nuggets of information and present the data in varying formats.
An example of this could be to talk about the factual evidence with visual aids, then give examples and finally talk about the applications in a conversational way or story.
Read the Energy in the Room
This is something that is easy to learn to do and does not take much practice. All you must do is look at your audience, and their posture. Are they comfortable? Slouchy? Focussed on you?
Pay attention to the energy you feel when you look at them. If it is a little flat, you can either show the relevance of what you are saying to them with an example or use a technique from tip 5.
Engage the Audience with Speech Devices
Not only for when things are flat, you can build such devices into your speech as you plan it. These devices help to keep your audience engaged, remember what you said and why it is important to them.
The easiest and most effective way is to ask a question. It is natural for the brain to try to answer it. For example, you could ask if any one has seen the news about…., what is their biggest success or challenge, what is their competition doing etc…. time to get creative. The important thing is to keep it relevant to the audience and your speech.
To make a question even more engaging you can make it into a poll. Hands up who, is a great phrase to remember, especially if you want to change your audience’s opinion or behaviour.
Stories are another device great for making the information more digestible and real. If you watch professional speakers, the ones that tell stories are the ones that speak with impact. They change their audience in some way by taking them on a journey.
Visual aids help in many ways and this can be a gesture or a slide, model etc. Another area you can be creative just keep it relevant.
Case Studies, videos, testimonials, volunteer to share their experiences etc…. these can also help you to keep your audience engaged.
Another bonus tip to remember, is not to give too much information in one go…..remember you cannot eat an elephant in one bite.
If you would like some help in getting impact into your speaking then book a free clarity call and we can identify how best to engage your audience….we can even identify who that audience are so you get the most impact.