You step up and turn to face your audience. You feel a lump in your throat. You’re about to speak your first words. What if they don’t like you? You silently pray, "Show me the love."
Fear of rejection is one of the reasons people avoid public speaking. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can make yourself attractive to the audience without being a seasoned pro.
Here are a few simple tips to make your audience fall in love with you:
Get over yourself. The reason you worry about being liked is because your attention is in the wrong place. When you think about yourself, you don’t serve your audience. You’re in the future thinking about negative reactions. Reset your mind to think about how to make the audience comfortable. Be present in the moment and smile. Look them in the eye. It’s not about you. It’s about them.
Grab them with a hook. The first minute sets the tone so walk in with confidence and begin with a compelling opening line. What do they value? What is the dream? Get them to say YES. When you see heads nodding in agreement, you’ll know they’re with you.
Tell them who you are. Until you show vulnerability, they may not relate to you as a person. They may think you’re a good speaker but they’ll still wonder if they can trust you. Share your journey or a simple example of your challenges and imperfections. Vulnerability creates a bond. It tells them you’re just like them. And that raises likability.
Feel their pain. Talk to their issues rather than in general examples. When you can clearly describe their problems they’ll know that you understand them. Build the gap between the present problem and their desired destination. Offer the promise of a solution and that will make any audience like you more. Remember the old adage-They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
Use Humor. Nothing engages an audience better than humor. Everyone likes to laugh. Laughter breaks down barriers when people are emotionally guarded. You don’t have to be a comedian. A sprinkle of levity or a lighthearted quip may be enough to elicit a chuckle. Cartoons, visuals, and impersonations are all ways to get a laugh. And you can always play off the funniest person in the room.
Connect with Stories. Facts tell. Stories sell. People are not moved by facts but they will take action when they hear a story. Even if you have a technical topic, you can begin with a personal story. Then add a story midway about a technical issue that everyone has experienced. Stories touch people’s hearts and create a connection.
Get in Sync. People like others who are most like themselves. If you have a scientific audience and you come at them with a blast of high energy you may rattle them. An understated presentation to a sales group is a recipe for ennui. Feel the energy of the group and pace them. Pace the tone, the speed, the language, their body language. How can you do this when you give a keynote to thousands? By doing your homework and interviewing key members in advance.
Make them part of the show. It’s a rare audience who wants to listen to a talking head. What they want is an experience. So give it to them. Involve them with interaction. Take a poll. Ask for a volunteer. Tell them to turn to their partner and share a best practice. Adults want to be participate in their learning. Make it fun and they'll sing your praises.
When you use these tips, you may find yourself channeling the Oscar winning actress, Sally Field, who said to the audience, “You like me. You really like me.”
If you want to have the audience in the palm of your hand, contact me.