Monday, December 14, 2009

Are You Friends With Your Audience?

Over the past two years I've watched Facebook and Twitter take over the world with a simple formula: let people talk to each other. This written form of communication offers valuable insight into the speaking world, as well.

Typically, we start out with a small group of people we communicate with - our friends and family. Some never move beyond that point. Others start to expand outside their immediate circle of influence, to people in their industry. Most of my friends on Facebook are fellow speakers I've never met. Beyond that, you can grow your network to thousands of people, many who may care what you say, others who just treat you as a statistic. Without becoming a tutorial on using social media, let me just say this - however you choose to use it, use it in the way it best serves your goals - and get your goals clear before you get to far.

The communication I see on these platforms usually falls into five categories:

1) Open, authentic comments about what we're doing, how we're feeling, and what we plan to do
2) Pithy Quotes and Off-the-Wall Jokes
3) Hardcore Marketing filled with links to blogs, sales pages, etc.
4) Links to news stories, blogs, or videos
5) Actual information

All distilled to 140 or so characters apiece, and the percentage of one of the five vs. the others can either serve or betray the Twitterer's purposes, just as how you speak to an audience will betray or serve your purposes.

What type of information are your giving to your audiences when you speak? Does your desire to market overwhelm your audience? Do you focus on sharing others wisdom without being authentic with your own life experiences? How does everything tie together?

Most important, when you have finished your speech, have you built new followers, new friends? Have you shared yourself and delivered your message with passion and integrity? Have you communicated with the audience, or just talked at them, throwing out one impersonal tidbit after another?

Successful Social Media users understand it takes a balance of all five types of messages to build friends and following. As speakers, we are given the luxury of more than 30 words or so, but the goal is the same - find the balance of content to build friendships, and trust, from the stage. Whether we're talking to friends and family, your circle of influence, or your entire industry, remember to talk to and with them, vs. at or for them.

Once your balance is achieved, you'll know you're able to Speak...and Deliver.

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