• Connecting Speakers with Audiences™


Two keynote speakers walk into a bar …

Two keynote speakers walk into a bar … 2560 1707 I Need A Speaker

Some of my favorite speeches include humor. David Sedaris somehow combines just the right words, tone, and facial expression that have made me laugh until tears roll down my cheeks.

When used properly, humor allows us to connect with one another. It lightens the mood when the topic is serious. It helps us remember key points.

As a speaker, you can use humor in a number of ways: cartoons, anecdotes, personal stories, quotes, or jokes. Some of the best speakers tell stories or jokes that make audiences laugh out loud – but be careful. If you’re not accustomed to using humor, your intentions could backfire.

If possible, test your material on an individual or group that represents your audience, and see if your remarks got the desired result. Did your test audience laugh or cringe? Use that feedback to decide how to proceed.

Our next speaker is …

Our next speaker is … 2560 1440 I Need A Speaker

Speaker introductions do more than tell your audience who you are. Speaker introductions highlight your relevance and credibility, and they set expectations for what your audience may expect to learn or experience.

Effective speaker introductions should be no longer than 100 words and should highlight the most important reasons that you’re the best speaker for that particular occasion, subject, and audience.

Having someone read a list of degrees and publications definitely underscores your status as a subject matter expert, but what’s even more important to audiences is what you’ve done and what you plan to share with them. If you’re speaking about entrepreneurial habits, it’s important to note that you’ve started six successful companies. If you’re discussing techniques for outdoor survival to a group of outdoor enthusiasts, definitely include your outdoor achievements in your narrative speaker bio. You get the idea.

Your audience doesn’t have to know everything about you. They just need to know that you’re qualified, capable, relevant, and excited to share.

Master the one most important element of a great presentation

Master the one most important element of a great presentation 1706 2560 I Need A Speaker

Many people would agree that Michelle Obama is an excellent speaker. Time and again, Michelle relates stories of her childhood, her college years, her marriage, and her relationship with her daughters. The former First Lady openly shares her experiences of stepping into the public spotlight and the pressures (and joys) that accompany her status.

Michelle follows the best practices of public presentation: planning, speaking at an appropriate pace for the audience/occasion, storytelling, pauses, and so on. Yet, perhaps what impacts her audiences most is her ability to make a connection with others.

How can you make a connection with audiences of any size? Whether you’re addressing a group virtually or in person, take some time to think about the audience. What matters to the people in that crowd? What do they think and dream about? What do they care about? What values do they share?

When you craft your remarks around your audience and use anecdotes to share information in a relatable way, you build the connection that makes people remember your speech long after it has ended.

Once upon a time …

Once upon a time … 2560 1707 I Need A Speaker

Shawn Achor and Brene Brown are two of my favorite authors and speakers. It’s not just because of the information they share. I like these speakers so much because of the way they share information. They tell engaging stories. They pull me in, and they make me want to hear more.

Before pen was ever put to paper, stories have been passed from generation to generation verbally. Ancient civilizations used stories to explain what they could not understand.

As humans, we are wired to tell, enjoy and remember tales. Great speakers know this, and they successfully weave stories into presentations to engage audiences, illustrate key points, and help listeners retain information.

When speakers tell stories from the heart, they connect with audience members in a special way. Speakers become more relatable, approachable, and memorable. In essence, they become more effective.

What story will you tell?

Nine ways to improve your online presentations

Nine ways to improve your online presentations 2560 1709 I Need A Speaker

With the rise of virtual meetings, many presenters have been asked to deliver remarks via Zoom. How can you be your best while presenting remotely? Plan well, as any good speaker would … and follow these nine tips.

  1. Keep your camera at face level, allowing you to look directly at the camera without looking down your nose or tilting your head upward.
  2. If your background doesn’t project the image you’d choose, swap it for a virtual background. Search “virtual Zoom backgrounds” online, and you’ll find a variety of free, downloadable images that range from silly to sophisticated. Use one that suits the occasion, topic, and audience.
  3. Ensure your background is as quiet as possible. You can’t prevent a fire truck from barreling down the street, lights and sirens engaged, but you can try your best to keep noises at a minimum.
  4. For best audio quality, consider using a headset with a microphone or a clip-on microphone in addition to your computer. Inexpensive models may be purchased online for less than $20 and will improve your audience’s experience.
  5. Be sensitive to time limitations. Many people are reporting “Zoom fatigue” from the number of online meetings they attend. Respect your audience’s time – as well as that of other presenters – by staying within your requested timeframe.
  6. Engage your audience when possible. This keeps attendees interested and supports their retention of information. Take a poll, conduct a brief activity, or have your audience complete a brief task.
  7. Dress appropriately! YouTube has a variety of “fail” videos revealing that some Zoom presenters failed to follow this rule.
  8. Remember that your setting may be more casual than your workplace, but you still want to appear professional. Enunciate and speak at a comfortable pace, so your audience can follow along easily.
  9. Have fun! Make the most of your opportunity to share information and engage with your attendees.
Tell Me, Don’t Tease Me!

Tell me, don’t tease me!

Tell me, don’t tease me! 922 922 I Need A Speaker

Recently, a friend of a friend dropped me a message to watch a webinar. He was pleased to recommend it and did so earnestly, sure that if we both watched it, we would come away enlightened and inspired. I settled into my couch, flipped open my laptop, and tuned in with great anticipation.

The speakers began with a lengthy introduction, recounting their entire life histories. Ten minutes later, they began describing the type of person for whom the webinar was best suited. Ten minutes after that, I closed the laptop.

As a speaker, it’s important to recognize that your audience’s time is valuable. The people who chose to hear your presentation are eager to hear your message, not a sales pitch for another message.

Background information and context are important. Let them support your message, not obscure it.

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