You have just delivered an engaging presentation, filled with questions and a lively discussion. The next day, you deliver the same message to a different audience and find the communication falling flat, no questions and little discussion. Is it you, your audience, the environment, etc…? The answer is yes, it is all of the above. In order to engage our audiences, we need to put them first and deliver the information in a way that they want to receive it.
John Maxwell, in his book Everyone Communicates, Few Connect, reminds us to be audience-focused, “You can connect with others if you’re willing to get off your own agenda, to think about others and to try to understand who they are and what they want.”
Below are three ideas to engage your audience.
- Be Prepared. When creating your communication be sure to take the time to analyze your audience. Determine what they already know about your topic, what do they want to know, and what is their attitude towards your topic. When you have to share a similar communication to multiple audiences, take the time to personalize each communication. Add stories, examples, and information that is relevant to each group. Create visuals that resonate with your audience and support your key message. Take the time to determine what is in it for your audience to support you. Being prepared also includes engaging in dialogue, discussion and questions. Determine how and where you would like dialogue and discussion to engage your audience.
- Engaging Delivery. You have a responsibility to bring your best self to each communication. Engaging others requires both visual and vocal energy. Use your body for descriptive gestures, add purposeful movement, and connect by using sustained eye contact with individuals. Keep your tone of voice conversational, not scripted. Depending on the meeting room, you may stand the entire communication or present seated. Consider the day of the week and time of your communication. If you are presenting in the middle of the afternoon you may need more visual and vocal energy to engage others. When you can, schedule your communication during a time when your audience is fresh and ready to hear your message.
- Your Authentic Self. Every communication gives you the opportunity to build trust and credibility with others. Bring your best self to every communication. Consider adding stories to your communications. Be sure that your story has a point as we have all heard the never-ending story. Let the group see and hear your passion for the topic you are sharing. Be sure to balance persuasion, motivation (what’s in it for the audience) and inspiration (why is this the right thing to do) in both your content and delivery.
In order to engage your audience, you need to prepare your message and yourself. Think about how and where you will get others talking during your presentation. Finally, remember it is not about the presenter, it is about our audience and finding ways to connect.
Our Speak Up & Be Effective™ – Momentum program provides participants with multiple communication structures, delivery skills to be our authentic selves, and feedback from fellow participants. Together this combination provides participants with opportunities to create and deliver communications that engage their audiences. Learn more here.