If there is a central theme that runs through every blog post, speech or workshop I deliver, it’s that there’s no bad audience. This is something speakers and presenters like to blame when they don’t connect with an audience. The say things like “tough crowd” or “they just didn’t get me”, but this isn’t true. There’s no bad audience because it isn’t their job to be interested, it’s our job to be interesting.
In order to be interesting and, more importantly, engaging, we need our audience on our side. To accomplish this, we must do three things every time we speak:
Have A Point
Everyone can talk, but not everyone has something to say. To keep our audience on our side, we must keep from wasting their time with meaningless monologs. Whether in a conference room, at the water cooler or on stage, we must have a point to make before we ever start to speak. It’s what keeps us from rambling, keeps us interesting and keeps the audience engaged in what we have to say.
Think of all of the boring speakers you’ve ever seen. What did they have in common? My guess is that they were all low energy. When we show energy, however, we avoid being boring and make ourselves dynamic. Take the stage with energy. Walk with an energetic purpose. These are things that get and keep people’s attention. They also keep an audience on our side as a presentation advances.
One of the fastest ways to lose an audience is to talk non-stop about how great we are. It may feel good for us, but it offers no value to the audience. Sometimes we have great stories about ourselves that we need to tell. If this is the case, by all means, share the story, but make sure there’s value to the listener when you do. Make your story about climbing Everest about perseverance and there’s value. Make it about one man and a mountain and its boring. Offer value that the listener can use and they stay on our side.
The truth of the matter is that our audience wants us to succeed. No one walks into a presentation hoping that the speaker is boring. That means it’s our job to live up their expectations by having a point, showing energy and offering value to keep them on our side.