Connecting with Your Audience
Michelle Marie Hernandez
August 17, 2014
Connecting with Your Audience

Delegates Listening To Speaker At ConferenceCongratulations on securing a speaking engagement! Now it’s time to think about your audience. The following suggestions will help you connect with the individuals who need to hear your message.

Get to know your audience prior to the event. Are you speaking to just women or men and women? Do some research to find out about their age range and background including education, interests, and profession. Ask the event planner about your audience’s needs and desires. Some might benefit from encouragement while others just want to learn new things.

Get to know your audience more on the day of the event. Greet individuals as they arrive. Introduce yourself and shake their hands. Learn their names. Ask where they are traveling from, how they heard about the event, and what they hope to gain from your presentation.

Face your audience. Give your audience your full attention while you are speaking to them. Avoid turning away from your audience unless a relevant demonstration requires you to do so. If you do turn away from your audience, wait until you are facing them again before you resume speaking. Make eye contact to acknowledge individuals and to ascertain whether or not they are grasping your message. Smile to set them at ease.

Capture your audience’s attention. Hook them with your opening line. Be authentic. Share interesting personal stories and relevant examples. Touch your audience emotionally.

Talk to your audience. Speak in a conversational manner. Avoid offensive words (e.g., cursing, prejudiced remarks, slang terms, etc.). Use language they can understand.

Approach your audience and let them approach you. If your audience is small, walk out among them. Encourage your audience to interact by asking questions or raising their hands in response to your questions. Be available to your audience after the presentation. In addition to sharing your contact information, you might stay for five to ten minutes to answer personal questions.

Thank your audience. Express gratitude for the tremendous privilege of having an audience. Let them know how much you appreciate their time and attention.

Connecting with your audience benefits you as well as them. When you relate to them, they will relate to you and more readily receive your message. Everyone will enjoy their time together. What’s more, news of how you connected with your audience will travel—and you will soon be speaking again.