• Connecting Speakers with Audiences™


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.

How should I handle nervousness?

How should I handle nervousness? 2560 1707 I Need A Speaker

Nervousness is often the result of inadequate preparation. Here are some tactics to manage those pre-presentation butterflies:

  • Realize that you have a message to send, and people want to hear it.
  • Outline using the classic format: tell your audience what you’re going to tell them, tell them what you want to tell them, and then tell them what you told them. It keeps you on track, and it helps your audience follow along with strong recall of your main points.
  • Know your material well.
  • Practice as much as necessary to be comfortable with your remarks.
  • Practice a “grounding” tactic. Many people believe that you can condition yourself to feel grounded by repeating a motion frequently while associating it with calmness. This motion may be as simple as pressing your pointer finger and thumb together. The belief is that, if you do it enough and make the association, the motion will bring you calmness in times of stress.
  • Still nervous? Take a short walk, reviewing key points and releasing energy as you stroll.

Remember: You’ve got this!

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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