Friday, September 2, 2011

Speak & Connect - It Goes Both Ways

Connection is a vital part of public speaking, yet it is often one of the last aspects of a presentation speakers think about. We can get caught up in our content, our slides, our gestures, our humor, our performance - and forget our audience is not there to watch us, they are there to listen to us.

In other words, you are not their as an actor - you are not separated by a fourth wall, be it the movie screen, television screen, or even the invisible screen between Broadway performers and their audiences.

Because they are there to listen, we need to make sure we connect to them by identifying with them. Notice I didn't say connecting with them by getting them to identify with US. Before they will identify with you and what you have to say, before you can bring them into YOUR presentation and message, they must know you understand them, that you know the message THEY have brought in the room.

What are you doing in the first few minutes of your presentation to let your audience know you 'get' them? That you aren't just some speaker brought in to spout off a few platitudes and sell some books?

An easy answer is 'Know Your Audience' - but it goes beyond interviewing employees and reading up on the company. It means grasping their pain and their joy, and sharing it with them enough that they know that you know that they know. You know?

Use humor, use a recent event they'll recognize, use a conversation you had with the CEO. Stop performing long enough to actually look into the audience and speak directly to them. Say something that signals to them that you are, if only for the next hour, a part of their organization, a part of their mindset.

Once you are part of them, they will be more willing to be a part of you, your presentation, and your message. Once you are a part of them, you are poised to Speak, & Deliver!


  1. As an actor (currently in rehearsal for The Odd Couple) I found the 4th wall concept to be the place where there is the most difference in the two crafts. But wait there's more...

    Sometimes in plays there are places where the author has a character speak to the audience. Many actors do this poorly. Those who have experience as public speakers do far better.

    If you see or get material from Doug Stevenson ( you will discover that there are times you might want that 4th wall in portions of your speeches as well. :-)

  2. I agree Michael - inherently, it has to be there for you to break it, right? :) Yeah - there are definitely times for that 'performance' moment.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...