How to Make a Lasting Audience Impact
Believe me when I say that no matter how good or flawless your pronunciation, grammar and accent are and regardless how masterful you are of facilitation and platform skills; you will still wind up as an average speaker if you do not make an impact on your audience.
Sounding well amazes people, that is for sure but it is just one thing. Furthermore, moving well on stage keeps your audience focused and awake but then again, it is still one thing. Nevertheless, enlivening your people as you speak and ending your presentation/speech wowing your audience is another.
What sets apart good or average from very good or excellent speakers (that get a deafening round of applause if not a standing ovation) is their ability to touch their audience’s lives and arouse their interest and participation in the duration of your seminar or training. If they are successful in getting deep down to their emotions/feelings and positively influencing and completely inspiring them, they know they are assured of not only a presentation or a speech that is well-applauded but a chance to be invited again to motivate more people’s lives; an encore.
In this article, which is the last of our four-part blog series about “Public Speaking 101”, I will provide you some techniques or tips that I am pretty sure you will benefit from as they have been working, thankfully, for me all through these years that I have spoken at different events and trained in different classes or programs.
Let me share with you my concept, E.N.E.R.G.I.Z.E. Yes. This is all you need to do to be an extraordinary speaker that brings in results, that impresses his audience, that leaves people in the audience wanting for more; feeling great that they watched you, listened to you and attended your event; and that is able to achieve the objectives of his presentation or speech. This is an acronym or a mnemonic that stands for Excite, Notice, Exchange, Relate, Goad, Inspire, Zoom In, and Entertain.
EXCITE your audience
You have to sound and passionate from start to finish. People have to see that you love what you are doing and that what you are telling them emanates from your heart. Honestly, I have been part of the audience several times myself and every time I see a speaker who is passionate and who talks as if his words are what make him alive, I am rallied by him and his wisdom. For me, a speaker who is passionate is more believable. It is because for some reason, such passion and enthusiasm help us imagine the story the he is sharing or put us in his shoes when he is narrating his personal encounters in life. We get to feel what he feels. We suddenly think the same way that he does and wonderfully enough, we find ourselves desiring to follow in the footsteps thinking every single wisdom that we are learning, we can readily apply in our life at once.
You see, passion and enthusiasm in speakers are very contagious. Magically, these auras of not only confidence but genuine concern to motivate and inspire as well kind of hypnotize people and before they realize it, they have already been itching to put into practice what has been said.
Therefore, sound and look passionate consistently. This can be seen and heard not only from the content of what you are saying but from how you sound — your tone, your voice’s volume, pitch, enunciation, etc. Believe me, it does work wonders.
NOTICE their reactions, body language and facial expressions
To be a great speaker is to be a very observant and strongly-sensitive one. No matter how many or few your participants are, you have to multitask with thinking, speaking and looking at their facial expressions, reactions and body language simultaneously all the time. It is not only to try to maintain eye contact with them but to check if everyone is still okay, following you, understanding you, awake, focused, and enjoying as well.
When they already look bored (you can see some yawning or looking somewhere else) or they are already sleeping, you might want to take a moment to ask them if they are still okay or better yet, facilitate a very quick icebreaker or game just to wake them up or put them back on track. You can also poke fun at the fact that they are sleeping on you or they are not paying attention to you anymore by pulling off a non-offensive and non-embarrassing joke directed at everyone so as not to put those people you caught yawning, sleeping or looking bored on the spot. If most people in your audience look like there is a big question mark on their faces, you might want to check for understanding by asking them if they do not have questions at that point or if everything is clear so far. Better yet, you might want to ask them questions yourself to test if every one is on the same page as you are and not just ignoring you or pretending to be listening to you.
Additionally, if you said something or cracked a joke that you are not sure will be or was accepted well by your participants, you may have to pay attention to their facial expressions, body language and reactions as well. Although it is still much better to think first before you utter a word you would regret saying afterwards, it helps when you check your participants to see if you are not rubbing anybody the wrong way.
So, do not just keep on talking in front without regard for what your participants might be thinking, feeling, or doing. It is significantly required that there is no single soul in your audience who is not having a great time with you.
EXCHANGE ideas with your audience, involve them, and be conversational
Remember, even if you have hundreds to thousands of participants, it is always a two-way communication and there is always a way to look and sound conversational, involving your participants, and exchanging ideas with them.
I am pretty sure you have seen how singers or bands involve their audience during their concerts, don’t you? It is either they ask them to sing with them, they ask them if they are having a great time with them or not, or they introduce or end their songs by telling a story or talking to them. These are their ways to strike up a good conversation with their audience and these are exactly the same things that I need you to do as well. Always involve your audience by asking them questions about what you are discussing, sharing anecdotes (fictional or factual) and personal experiences, or having them to say something briefly. This way, you are not the only one who is doing all the talking. As I have observed, most people feel valued when they are involved or made to participate. It also keeps them from getting bored or feeling asleep, you know. They pay more attention to what you are saying. Lastly, they always remain on their toes all throughout your talk.
RELATE ideas and concepts to your personal experiences
Especially when you are doing motivational or inspirational talks, the best example for your teachings is you; yourself. The reason why you have been invited to motivate or inspire to begin with is that you have walked the talk or have practiced what you preach. Right? Therefore, before or after presenting a tip; a strategy; a method; a technique; a principle; an idea; or a concept, you may need to share a personal story, encounter, or ordeal in which you were able to make use of that knowledge and it has helped you tremendously.
The truth is, it is hard to believe a speaker who is teaching something that he has not applied himself yet, ever. Would you believe a person who is advertising himself as a rags-to-riches story when he was not really born to an impoverished family and cannot even share a single experience about not having to eat anything, going flat broke, or struggling to survive every single day of his life? Do you get what I am saying?
Ergo, sharing personal experiences; struggles and successes not only enhances your presentation or speech but increases your credibility as well. Give it a go and let me know if it works for you or not.
GOAD your audience to acknowledge, appreciate, act, apply, and appraise
One of the best ways to reinforce or wrap up the life principles that you are sharing with your audience is to challenge them to acknowledge and appreciate what they have learned, act on them and apply them immediately, and appraise their own results afterwards. You may start with phrases like “I challenge you…”, “Let me give you something to work on…”, “As I end my speech, I’ll leave you with a homework or an assignment…”, or “Let me give you a test of life…”. This has always worked not just for me but for any other speakers too. Challenging your participants to do the Five As I mentioned above (acknowledge, appreciate, act, apply, and appraise) does not only give them the responsibility to understand and appreciate what they have learned but the obligation to commit to putting everything into practice and asking themselves if they have done them well or not.
INSPIRE them with borrowed or better yet, your personal quotations and life principles
Using or sharing quotations with your audience is the real icing on the cake. These life principles are what really stick to their heads or stay in their systems. As usually the case, one cannot be a motivational speaker or a life coach if he does not have any quotation or life principles to give to his audience. Even with corporate trainers, let me tell you this, their training programs or courses are also accentuated by one or two food for thought that really help. So, always make sure that your presentation or speech is highlighted by very practical, convincing, and good-sounding quotes. For sure, as long as they are pronounced with conviction and enthusiasm, your participants will be blown away.
Keep in mind though that your quotations do not have to be your own or self-thought. You can just borrow quotations from famous people or other proven motivational speakers. Jut make sure that the quotations that you tell them are relevant, easy to understand and digest, favorable, and viable. You may have to be prepared to elaborate on them if necessary.
ZOOM IN on your audience.
If you really like to make an impact on your audience, then zoom in on their needs and expectations and focus on their responses. Make all the effort to reach out to them and touch their lives. This is not only done by maintaining eye contact with them though. This can also be accomplished by listening with your mind and heart when somebody wants to share or when you initiate to ask somebody questions. You have to pay attention to what that person is saying. It also helps when you show that you are listening by nodding or by uttering verbal nods or listener feedback like “I see…”, “I understand…”, “I’m with you…”, “I get what you mean…”, “Right”, “Okay”, etc. Just the same, your audience will participate if you paraphrase what one says by telling it to everyone or addressing it to the crowd. That way, everybody else knows what is going on or what that person is sharing.
Bear in mind that a great speaker or trainer is one who always makes his presentation two-way even if he has hundreds to thousands in front of him.
And last but not least, ENTERTAIN
This last ingredient for making an impact on your audience in your training, seminar or what have you is actually a personal favorite. In fact, this is what makes people give any speaker or trainer out there a standing ovation or what makes them laugh or applaud on their feet in my opinion.
This simply means that you will have to be a stand-up comedian every so often or when the situation calls for it. There are times that when your participants are apparently losing interest in your discussion or talk, that is already an alert that you must throw some wholesome; non-condescending jokes here and there. For real, these jokes are what keep them attentive all throughout. More often than not, just to add, speakers or trainers are best remembered for their good sense of humor than anything else.
It takes some practice or testing though. There are times that some people would not buy your joke but you do not have to crack it again or be disappointed. It usually works when you just make fun of your own corny joke and that is what makes your audience laugh. The point here is you should always be prepared to back up or adjust yourself every time you face situations like this. Nonetheless, with all things being equal, entertain your audience. It does not have to be jokes or doing stand-up comedy all the time. It could be something else too. In my personal experience, since I dance well and was a dancer before, I play famous and trendy dance hits and I encourage my participants to dance with me. So, really, do what you think has an entertainment value and will amuse your audience.
Okay, this is the fourth and last installment of our four-part blog series about “Public Speaking 101”. I hope that all you guys have learned from Part I until this one. More importantly, I expect that after reading everything, you are now all set to become a speaker or a trainer yourself. Or, if you have already been a trainer or speaker, I am wishing that this series has made you a better and more entertaining expert in whatever your chosen topic is.
Until the next blog or series, folks. BE EQUIPPED! 🙂