Connecting With An Audience

by Speaking Tips | March 22, 2004

Getting the attention of the audience, meeting the needs of your audience and making yourself understandable and remembered are important in all types of speaking situations. When you "connect" with an audience, you sense the energy flow between you and your listeners.  You get positive feedback and a confidence boost while the audience feels flattered by your attention to their issues.

How do you connect with an audience?  First, understand that speaking is a two-way interaction like a conversation.  Second, use one or more of the techniques in the list below. Note that many of these techniques depend on researching the audience beforehand. In many respects this is actually more important than researching your topic because if you design a presentation for the wrong audience, pitch it at the wrong knowledge level or use unfamiliar concepts, your audience will react negatively. Third, explore a book on the topic for more information.

Connecting techniques can be used at any point in a speech or presentation. For longer engagements (for example a full-day training session) consider reconnecting about every 20 minutes or so or at any time if you sense you are losing your audience.

Connecting Techniques

  • Learn the group demographics
  • Select a topic the audience wants to know about
  • Create a title that will capture interest
  • Arrive early and mingle with the other early birds
  • Make sure the facilities and setting are comfortable
  • Arrange for a brief but relevant introduction
  • Ensure your body language communicates "I am glad to be here"
  • Greet and acknowledge the audience
  • Make sure the audience can hear and see you
  • Acknowledge the occasion
  • Clearly communicate your objectives and how long you plan to take
  • Let the audience know what is in it for them and what the desired outcomes are
  • During your presentation:
    • Begin on a positive note without apologies
    • Make sure your voice reflects enthusiasm
    • Smile (a lot)
    • Ask a question
    • Introduce humor
    • Make eye contact
    • Praise the audeince
    • Share the audience's concerns
    • Tell a personal story
    • Give the audience something to do
    • Solve a problem
    • Express your point of view
    • Speak the audience's language and use their vocabulary
    • Use images and metaphors that the audience can relate to

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