6 Ideas To Connect With The Audience

by Elaine Slatter

Last week I was pacing up and down my kitchen rehearsing for an hour presentation on “standing out from the crowd”.  A branding talk.  My dilemma was how to connect with the audience.

I had all the facts, but since I wrote a script and was trying to follow it, the delivery was quite frankly, boring!

Then the lightbulb hit me.  It was boring because there is no passion when you read from a script. And I definitely didn’t want to use Powerpoint only to see the audience on their phones or yawning because it was yet another slideshow.  So here are some ideas I incorporated to connect with the audience.

Ditch the script and speak from the heart

When you do this, you are more natural and your passion for the subject matter shines through. It is a bit scary to abandon the script, but you have to trust you have the power of knowledge and belief in yourself.

My favorite speaker of all time is Professor Maja, a sociologist and women’s empowerment speaker. What makes her stand out is the power of what she says and how she says it.  Then, it’s how she dresses!  Yes, definitely NOT like a professor.  Hop over to watch a clip from Prof. Maja’s TV spot on The Social talking about the “Imposter Syndrome” and you will see what I mean.

She shared with me that people tell her often that she doesn’t look professional…..but she has a unique style that makes her stand out and she stands her ground and doesn’t back off.  And I love that about her, too.  She is unapologetically herself and connects totally with her audience and you can too.

Hook and Hinge or Angle and Peg

Whaaat?   These are techniques to pull the audience in right at the beginning and the best way to do this is to tell a story.  In my audience, there were a few people I know well, so I used their stories to connect both to them, their friends and the whole audience.  They weren’t scary, silly or embarrassing stories, they were branding stories related specifically to their companies.

Breakdown the Topic into Small Bites with Actionable Tips

Use the KISS formula (Keep It Simple, Stupid!)  Your audience can’t possibly know what you know and they don’t want to know it all.  So break it down into smaller bite-size pieces that are easy to swallow. You can always elaborate further by sending them a link to a free tip sheet or checklist after the presentation.  In fact, that is an excellent way to follow up.

Use Examples

Again, you can use stories here, good stories and bad stories, but a story the audience will remember.  My favorite branding story is Nike.  Because quite honestly their logo is just a simple, curvy tick.  Absolutely nothing remarkable about it at all.  It only cost Nike under $20.00 to have the logo designed. It’s how they connected the logo and tagline “Just Do It” with a series of athletes who were “doing it”! And the comparison is if they can “Do It”, so can you!

Everyone can connect with that story because Nike is a household name and recognizable to everyone who has ever gone to a sports apparel store.  And if you have kids, you definitely have been to that kind of store!

Give Local Examples

This is effective because your audience will instantly relate to a business in their local area.  After the talk, members of the audience mentioned that was the part they loved the most.

That was very easy to do because I interviewed the owners of these businesses right there on the spot. We were sitting side by side on stools.  I sent them the questions ahead of time so they had some idea of what I was going to ask, but the conversation flowed naturally and I noticed not one person was glancing out of the window or on their cell phone.

Have a Close

Wrap it up with a memorable summary and a call to action and you simply have done your job! Leave them with a few nuggets that they will remember for a total of 30 to 45 minutes max with a few minutes for questions and you are on your way to connecting.

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