When we click with someone new, it’s always somewhat magical. I’m not only talking about a romantic attraction, I’m referring to those times when you talk with a prospective client, or a new member of an organization you’re involved with, or someone you happen to meet networking.

The other day I connected by phone with a woman who was building an online jewelry business. We had what turned out to be a long and fun conversation and while she did not become a client, I invited her to attend one of the groups in which I am active. We both felt as though we were old friends picking up a conversation where it had left off.

What did I do? I asked her questions about her goals, her business, her background, and what had prompted her to call me in the first place. She was unquestionably the star of the conversation and the initial barrier of talking to a stranger had definitely vanished.

As a speaker, your goal is similar. You want to establish rapport and quickly eradicate what I call the credibility fence that separates you from the audience. Your can easily find an opening to walk through that fence or simply jump over it, when you select the right stories, facts and solutions, and make your delivery as real and stimulating as possible.

A proven method to eliminate the invisible barrier in the room is to enable the audience itself to become a key part of your performance. You strategically ask, for instance, a series of questions that you invite audience members to answer, and then incorporate their responses into your next set of remarks. The technique is not for the feint-hearted because you really don’t have any control over the answers you receive. But with today’s increasingly limited attention span, this approach can be a winning way to gain audience acceptance and appreciation. How can you activate your audience in your next presentation?

*Excerpted from Public Speaking for the Genius by Anne B. Freedman, coming soon. Save 25% with your pre-publication order now! Just click here. 

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