If you imagine your audience laying on beach towels under umbrellas on a glorious summer day, with your job to capture and keep everyone’s attention, it all starts to make sense, yes?
I’m talking about how challenging trying to connect and stay connected to a group of people can be when you’re the speaker. Over the years, I confess that “not connecting” has happened a few miserable times, despite my best preparation and practice. You sense the energy in the room is not right. More than a few people are fully engaged with their phones- and not you. You feel like a failure yet you’ve got to “go on with the show.”
What can you do?
Think of the image I gave you at the start of this blog – your audience members are each relaxing on a beach towel – and you are expected to engage and entertain them.
Here are two recommendations from my experiences:
1) Begin asking more questions that will inspire their participation and
desire to answer. Your mission is to stir them out of the beach-style zone
and into your conversation.
“What would you say has been the most challenging part of your work in this area?”
“Why do you think you encounter resistance when you try to do something new?”
“What kind of situations do you see as recurring problems and why?”
“When do you find is the best time to introduce new approaches or procedures?”
“Where have you had the most success in your endeavors so far?”
2) Plan an exercise or series of exercises that will require people to work in
small groups together.
- Invite small groups to problem-solve a particular issue or challenge, and then share their results with the entire audience.
- Initiate a “count off” with everybody getting a number from one to five. Then, re-assemble the group by number and give each a specific task to review and a time limit. A report back to the rest of the group follows, with feedback from all participants invited and encouraged.
If you haven’t yet viewed my recent presentation, “How to Avoid the Five Most Common Speaking Mistakes Leaders Make,” you can see it on YouTube by clicking here. Please let me know what you found helpful. I’m available this summer to give your group this presentation as well.
For a limited time, get your complimentary copy of one of my new E-books, Getting the ‘Yes’ Start-Up Kit, by clicking here. In exchange, I would appreciate your sending me a brief review of the book I can post on my website. (Send your review to firstname.lastname@example.org.) You can find the complete collection, including my new do-it-yourself E-course, Your Success Kit for Public Speaking, which includes nine videos and a 240-page step-by-step Workbook, at www.speakoutinc.com/shop.
Enjoy the season! It doesn’t last long enough in my view.