How Well Do you Connect? (+ Connection Contest)

In John Maxwell’s new book “Everyone Communicates, Few Connect”, John says….. maxwellconnectbook

“Whether you are communicating one-on-one or with a large audience, asking questions creates a connection between you and your listeners that is vital to releasing energy and raising their interest levels. Because my audiences are often so varied, when I begin speaking…. I pose a question related to the topic I’ll be speaking on. I’m simply trying to get people to engage right away.”

How do you engage your audience?

Are you connecting with them in the first 30 seconds?

One of THE most difficult things for a speaker to accomplish is the “audience flip”. Making it about them (the audience) rather than about yourself.

Art Berg, a speaker who died way before his time, told me that he saw his career change when he caught onto this. It wasn’t easy to make his story “about them” as he was a parapalegic who had suffered a horrible accident. But he did it. Art’s theme was “while the difficult takes time, the impossible just takes a little longer”. Once he turned his speech around and made it about them he saw a major surge in his career.


During your presentations, how do you connect with your audience?

I’d like to see your ideas posted below by July 1st.  The top 5 ideas will win a copy of John Maxwell’s new book “Everyone Communicates, Few Connect”. (Be sure to leave your e-mail address with your comments so I can connect with the winners).

PS: Someone who is famous for connecting with their audience is Joe Calloway. Joe and I produced “Diary of a Killer Keynote” DVD which includes one of Joe’s most talked about NSA speeches. Right now, we’re offering them at a special sell off price (save $30). Check it out.

  • After each of the 7 steps in my keynote I give the audience an action step to take – kind of like a mini assignment. With some of the action steps I ask them to share what they are going to do or the answer to the action step question.

  • I make a point to connect by telling stories that virtually everyone in my audience can relate to. Stories about my dad, stories about my first car, about my psycho sister-in-law! Stories that are realistic that each audience member can relate to. I don’t talk about trying to lose 50 pounds (because not everyone can relate), I talk about those 5 pounds that I’ve lost 10 times. I am very particular about my audiences (I’m very targeted) and the work stories I tell are exactly what they experience (they often laugh and tell me that they’ve done the same thing). But the connection is the stories that are real, realistic, funny and apply to everyone. Through laughter and stories I connect.

  • My signature keynote is entitled, “No More Handcuffs”, I physically come out on stage in a prison outfit and handcuffs and immediately gains the attention of the audience.The entire presentation, I paint vivid word pictures to bring the audiences into the story. I “take them” not just “tell them” about the story. Midway in the presentation, I take the prison outfit off and I am wearing a suit. I then make the connection that “your past doesn’t determine your future.”

  • I’ve used many different tools to connect with my audience within the first 30 seconds. The one that I enjoy the most is to do a quick poll. e.g. If the focal point of the message is parenting, I’d introduce myself and then ask, “How many of you have parents still living, raise your hand? How many of you are parents, raise your hand? How many of you are parents, but secretly sometimes wish you weren’t, raise your hand?”

    Always three questions. Any more than that and it’s monotonous. The first two are serious/normal. The third is somewhat humorous. This device not only invites my audience onto the journey with me but gets them engaged mentally and also physically. At that point, I’ve got them.

    Depending on the message, I sometimes cycle back to the opening poll at the end of the message (a technique called “framing”).

    Peace! Todd

  • My signature keynote is entitled, “No More Handcuffs”, I physically come out on stage in a prison outfit and handcuffs and immediately gains the attention of the audience.The entire presentation, I paint vivid word pictures to bring the audiences into the story. I “take them” not just “tell them” about the story. Midway in the presentation, I take the prison outfit off and I am wearing a suit. I then make the connection that “your past doesn’t determine your future.”

  • In my speeches I encourage the audience to interact through games, lots of questions, I offer break-out sessions and after the event we connect through tele-calls or exclusive master-mind groups. When it is a group of 200-2,700 the lots of questions work and allowing question during and after the talk. Follow-up is really the key and or leaving copies of my books, audios, or reports on cd.

  • In my seminars on Public Speaking, I open with a question. Has anyone ever had to speak in front of a group and felt that cold fear deep in your stomach? I then proceed to tell them a story about being 3 inches from death from a sniper’s bullet while I was a UN Peacekeeper. I relate the adrenaline and how we handled the shooting to the fear you feel before and during a public address.
    Most often, I leave them understanding that this fear is really not as big as they might feel and that as long as they are prepared, engaged and compassionate about their topic, the fear will be nothing more than a motivator to do the right thing.

  • In my “CRAVE Your Goals!” program, I share five steps or universal principles using the acronym CRAVE to help my audiences be more positive, focused and productive. They are Clean Out the Clutter, Raise Your Vibrations, Affirm Success, Visualize and Express Thanks. To engage them from the start and recognize that some people might not buy into this concept, I begin with two questions, “How many of you believe in the tooth fairy?” and “Who here is certain that someday soon the prize patrol from Publisher’s Clearinghouse will ring your doorbell and hand you a humungous million dollar check?” They laugh and look around to see who’s raising their hands. It puts them at ease as I share that some people think strategies like using affrmations and visualization are too easy and will never work. Then, I invite them, if they have any doubts, “to suspend your disbelief–just for the time that we’re together–and play with the possibilities.” I ask them to raise their hands if they are ready to play and everyone does.

  • If I’m facilitating or training, I often relay on my marketing research background and preface my presentation a couple weeks in advance with an online anonymous survey to the participants. During my presentation, I tell them the results of what they told me, and I design exercises that specifically relate to their “hot spots”. This is of great value to the client and the participants because it’s about their favourite subject — them! When keynoting, I begin and end with personal stories, and always relate it back to THEM and their lives. Keeping it real and about them is the key.

  • Two strategies work for me – both initiated before I ever get on the stage. I interview a sampling of audience members by phone ahead of time as I am preparing for the program. When I arrive at the venue, I try to be there early enough with set up out of the way so I can greet and chat with audience members as they settle in. Early in the program, I’ll reference the advance interviews and give an overview of their issues related to the topic at hand. As the presentation unfolds, I reference people who are in the audience and interject a comment or exchange we shared before the program started. Keeps it fresh for me – and builds rapport with them.

  • Jane, I ask three questions in the first 45 seconds, at least one of which, virtually everyone in the audience can answer, “Yes, that is me or my situation”. It pulls people in, lets them you you are speaking about them, not just delivering a speech one more time, and increases their focus.

    In order to ask these questions and achieve the correct response, which is “I can identify with that”, you have to do your homework and know who you are talking to.

  • I once gave a talk at a woman’s prison in Texas. I knew this blonde Ph.D. would not connect on first glance. I told them I was going to share my story, and asked them raise a hand when they heard something that was also their story! I started with some autobiography that included number of marriages, ideas on men, love of camping, children, and by the time I eremoved into motivational talk we were connected! Funny to see all hands in the room up as we shared laughter over my comments on marriages. I also hand out 3×5 cards with quotes on the topic (ie Poetry of Texas Music). I invited the audience to share the quotation at the appropriate time. This shapes their listening, and they become interactive. I have also done this in talks on communication. One last technique I use in school. On the first day of class, I have my college students walk through my office looking for something in there that indicates a similarity we have. Their first writing assignment is to let me know how we are alike. The rest of the semester is altered by this technique. They see how we are similar rather than focus on our differences. An engaged audience!

  • I also believe posing a question is extremely powerful.
    Last week, in Singapore, I opened my signature keynote, “Don’t Doubt the Dream”, by showing a Post-It note on which I had written those same four words sixteen years ago. I then said to the audience, as I usually do, “I had no idea how much those four words would transform my life. But not just my life but the lives of thousands of people throughout the world.”

    But this time, I added, “Let me give you an example…” I then read the following email (excerpted):
    “Hi I’m Jill. I don’t know who is reading this but I am going to write as if I am talking directly to Jerry.
    My mother’s name was Sandra K.. Your message made a great impact on her life, as well as my whole families. My mother was very sick during my childhood. She was on the waiting list for a double lung transplant. When the new lungs finally came, she went into surgery and my dad was the last one to say goodbye to her. Unfortunately, my mother did not make it through the surgery. But before going into surgery she told my father to give everyone one message if she didn’t make it. Her final words were, “Don’t doubt the dream, or it will never come true.” I am writing you this because I want you to know how much your inspiration and music changed my life and my families forever. You have touched our lives in a way that you will never know. For that I want to thank you!! ”

    I then asked the audience this question: “How is it possible that a simple thought, which I jotted on a Post It, could end up becoming a dying mother’s last words to her loved ones? I then said, “This is the question I want to explore with you in my program today.”

    It was simply amazing (and humbling) to look into the hundreds of eyes and see they were completely on board for the journey.
    This was the FIRST time I had done this, but it certainly won’t be the last.

  • Audio record your live speech with a small digital recorder. Play the recording back and make notes along the way as to how many times, where, and why you used the word “I”. Allow yourself enough time to make detailed notes. Be prepared to stop and start the audio. Look for ways to eliminate the word “I”. Dig deep with your thinking to accomplish a speech that never uses “I”. Brake your speech down into small segments and work on one part or story at a time. Be open to the fact that this may require a total rewrite for some segments. Once you have taken out as many “I’s” as you think you can, apply these changes to your speech. Record your newly revised speech the same way. Again play it back and go through the process again. Do this over and over until you have eliminated the word “I” almost totally. This may take you many speeches, but it will be well worth your efforts.

  • A question will always engage the audience. But one does not want to get into audience interaction, usually, immediately. Therefore the question should be rhetorical, and after a pause to let the engagement take place, you answer it youself. For example, “Have you ever…..? followed by “I, too, and this is what happened…(stories also grab the audience). It is important to project yourself as humble and approachable, so a story of a foible helps.

    Another VERY important point, is to make contact with the audience as soon as you enter the room. Walk up to the podium, making eye contact from left to right and keep doing so during your introduction. Many speakers look straight ahead as they approach the podium, and then at their notes, or the person introducing them. I recommend you make the audience the priority from the minute you see them.

  • Dale Carnegie once said that the sweetest sound in any language is the sound of your name. I arrive early to meet and greet the people coming to the program. No matter what the topic, in programs of less than 300 people, I always introduce how important it is to have a good memory and how a good memory can work for anyone in the audience. I then introduce everyone in the audience to each other. I then challenge them to improve their memory skills and start learning their neighbors’ names. This gets their attention and keeps everyone engaged for the full program.

  • Since my talks are based upon my book, “What Your Doctor Never Told You,” which deals with physical trauma, I may open with these questions: “How many of you have been in an auto accident?, How many played contact sports?, How many had a bad fall or injury sometime in your life? Not surprisingly, almost every hand goes up. This gives me the opportunity to explain how most physical trauma injuries are either neglected or cared for poorly, and if left untreated by a chiropractor, can lead to future health problems.

  • Connecting with the audience begins for me before the event.

    I speak on team dynamics, and as a part of my prep I ask for an email to be sent out to all prospective attendees asking them to email me with their answers to two questions: What are the strengths of your team? What are the greatest challenges of your team? I then write a brief personal “thank you” to everyone who responds.

    As a result, when I get up to speak, I have already had interaction with a critical mass in the audience. Then when I start to share my discoveries from the survey- often revealing the “elephant in the room/moose on the table”- the level of focus and attention in the room is 100% and they are ready for whatever solutions I may offer to their specific team situation.

    When, as has happened, the greatest challenge to the team is the person signing my cheque, or the board of directors, it can get a little interesting, but it allows me to deal with the real issues the team is facing, which is inherently interesting and engaging to team members. They take copious notes and engage in the small group interaction times with passion, because it is no longer theoretical, it is about them.

  • Combining open ended questions with the telling of a story is effective, re-engaging the audience and inviting them to check-in with their own story or anticipated response. In coaching, my mantra around this topic is: “Ask more. Tell less. Teach when you can.” Asking questions is powerful; who likes to be “told”? How do you feel when someone asks for your input on something that matters? What happens in that intense conversation when a well-crafted, open ended question is ask? Thanks Jane for your influence. Steve

  • 1. Remember,you are in service for your audience members,fill yourself with love.
    2. Dress in very comfortable clothing that fit you perfectly.
    3. Express gratitude for their participation and be genuine.
    4. be present and Allow your essence to show up.
    5. articulate when you speak.

  • I always have the audience do something physically interactive.
    The instructions begin “Look around the room. Make eye-contact with someone you do not know. In a minute you’re going to move toward them and . . .”

    Often the assignment is to find out what they have in common.
    Then I interview them! They learn great things about each other.
    A few months ago, in Boston, a woman from Cincinnati and a woman from Portland learned that the Portland woman buys her coffee each morning from the Cincinnati woman’s daughter.

    (My all time favorite is the woman who found out the lady she was speaking with had been a bridesmaid in her husband’s fifth {yes, 5th} wedding!) {I didn’t ask. She had to know.}

  • Hi Jane~

    I am a disciple of your work!
    As a former reporter I was acutely aware that if I didn’t connect in the first sentence, I wasn’t going to connect at all so I took that unwritten rule and applied it to my presentations.

    Sometimes I start with a 10-question quiz where I am asking for the one word answer relates to the topic.
    I add a little motivation by saying that teens usually get the answer by #6. I try to make the quiz questions fun and interesting enough to hold their attention and make them want to know more.

    Sometimes I start with a 10 statement true or false. I ask for 10 volunteers who don’t mind reading. Each person reads what is written on their paper and the audience decides with a verbal “true or false.” This is a great way to start because it give a bit of background to the topic and if the questions are interesting enough, people want to know more.

    Keep writing Jane…you’re good!

  • Celeste Ametrine

    Before I get up to speak, I connect within and without first. If I am not connected to Source, I am not going to be able to connect as deeply with my audience. So I do a quick grounding exercise which engages me with the Earth and with the Center of the Universe — wherever that is for me that day.

    Once I am in front of my audience, I connect first with the person introducing me by shaking hands and meeting their gaze with a big brilliant smile (simple by effective!), then I take a nice deep breath in front of the audience; breathing them in and me out to them. To begin the talk, I ask a series of 1 – 3 questions starting broad and getting more specific. My questions are a mix of poignant and humorous, and are used to get them mentally and physically involved. A show of hands or “stand up if you’ve ever”.

  • Jeff Dawson

    As a first time speake and believer in “The Wealthy Speaker”, the audience is immeresed in the opening statement. The end comes first. Some might call it “shock value”. The majority of the audience can relate to the events being descirbed. The speech is designed not to just get their attention, but let them take thier own experiences and place them on the platform. It is their story.

  • I’ve been lecturing on marketing for almost 40 years. In the beginning (and for 11 years) I taught an 8.5 hour workshop on integrated marketing strategy. I learned very quickly that these sessions had to be very interactive and entertaining as well as educational. Since “Marketing” is a term that to many people has a different meaning I asked members of the audience to define their interpretation of it, before I stated what my belief was which would be the foundation of the session. Then throughout the session I would ask questions that encouraged more concise and creative thinking such as describe your business in 5 words or less. This constant interaction that forced the attendees to think has proven popular over the last 4 decades.

  • Tom Stoyan give me an idea for an security audit that I now distribute to clients to obtain business. I have started to hand out this same audit to audience members. This makes it easy for them to create a personal list of areas of security they need to address by simply clicking the boxes. Creates lots of Q.& A. where you really get to solving their problems.

  • The most effective way I have found to connect with my audience is to walk amoung them before the presentation. Get to know a little bit about them. Ask them questions to get to know them a little better. The one question I always ask is “What are looking to get out of the presentation today?” This allows me to connect with them in a way that makes them feel appreciated (Because I do appreciate them greatly) and it also allows for me to do some last minute tailoring of my presentation. It is a win-win situation!

  • As I prepare for each presentation, I keep uppermost in my mind my purpose–to educate, inspire, and motivate by reaching minds and hearts, so they can experience healthier, happier lives. It really is all about them! I arrive early and mingle to make connections, welcoming and thanking as many as I can for coming. I ask, “What are you hoping to learn tonight?” or “What resonated with you to attend this lecture?” In my opening remarks, I mention, “I was able to meet many of you coming into the room; for those of you I haven’t met personally, welcome, and thanks for coming. I’ll then share briefly the feedback I’ve gotten and let them know we will be covering those things as I go into my introduction. This creates a warmness in the audience, saying “you’ll get personal attention tonight.”

  • Last week I was coaching someone on a big presentation. Her biggest asset is that she has always been a wonderful conversationalist. I helped her see how to use this, to create a guided conversation. Having a conversation, helps an audience not feel as if this is a lecture but a one on one.

    She opened with a story that immediately brought her audience in, wanting to listen to her. She also closed by talking directions to them. Naming names in the audience as she looked at them, speaking of experiences she shared with them.

    The audience response and reactions were very good, showing engagement and interaction throughout her presentation.

  • Jane, because I actually TEACH networking skills and strategies, it’s imperative that I connect with the audience to ensure that it really is all about them, not me.

    My workshops are highly interactive, with lots of exercises that get people up, moving around and actually applying the skills they just learned. I provide plenty of time for us to chat about developing, for example, a better way to introduce themselves that sets them apart from others in the networking event and as a group, we work on perfecting the intro and finding the right words to make them stand out…we become a team of consultants for free!

    I also include personal stories to help impress a particular point we’re working on – they go so much farther than simply saying, “Okay, this is what you do – now go do it!”

    And, ahhh, yes – the direct eye contact, the smiles, some fun…and making myself available after the workshops to chat, support, help and encourage.


  • Great question… I do a few things to connect. Before the presentation I make it a point to not just meet people, but ask them what they are hoping I’ll cover & jot down some notes about what they say- then I make sure to work it in or let them know it is a great point they have and I’m happy to connect with them afterward since it is not a topic I was asked to incorporate. In my intro the audience learns that I am an adventurer… paragliding, ice climbing, parenting… then in the beginning of the presentation I ask, “who are the fellow adventurers?” They get a kick out of looking around to see who else has jumped off a bridge or out of a plane. I then pick someone (usually I scout them out in advance) who looks like they could have a teenager at home and I go into the audience to talk with them. We have a brief (and always funny) dialogue about telling teenagers “if all your friends were jumping off a bridge…” and then I segway into “I’m pretty sure my parents never thought I would actually BE in that situation… but all my friends were jumping off a bungee bridge!”

  • oops… forgot to leave my email as you requested with my post… Thanks!

  • Connection at its best takes place before, during and after a presentation. Prior to the event I gather information about the audience that will let them know I care enough to understand them and the specifics of their challenges. This is key to tailoring what I say. Personal connection takes place with the meeting planner, the person who “owns” the meeting and others I communicate with by phone and email. During the presentation, I aim to involve mentally, emotionally and when possible, physically. I use proprietary quizes that require writing answers and illustrates specifics of my presentation. Interaction–with each other and/or with me–is also key. Afterwards I provide weblinks and resources to extend the impact of my presentation. “Virtual connection” through web based resources and social media enhances relationships formed in real time.

  • I get them on my side by getting on their side first. Here’s my approach.

    1. When I step on the platform, I sport a “nobody care’s about me” attitude. (I don’t need to get my love from the audience, that’s what mothers are for.) What I mean by this is that my audience doesn’t care about me nearly as much as they care about what I can do for them. So I give ‘em what they want—juicy content.

    2. I also try to say the word “you” more than “I” or “me.” It’s subtle, but it works. So instead of saying, “Today I’m going to do this or explain that,” I’ll say, “Today you’re going to discover” or “Today you will see how…” It’s all about them.

    3. Use their terminology. (No duh.) Again, it’s the little things. For example when addressing several hundred legal recruiters, you’d better say “firm” not “company” and “client” not “customer.” Of course I do other Speaker 101 stuff like incorporate their industry buzzwords into my keynotes from the pre-program questionnaire…but I don’t try to pretend to be one of them because I’m not.

    4. Finally, no stories are ever told in a vacuum or told just to tug on heartstrings. I strive to tie all my stories back to the audience. My goal is to hold up a mirror to help them discover things about themselves they didn’t know. I’m a big fan of JFK’s take on the subject, “The only reason to stand up and give a speech is to change the world.”

    5. And if 1-4 above don’t work, I throw money into the audience. Works every time.

  • I make a conscious effort to be aware of what is happening in the moment. In the first ten minutes, something unexpected will happen that the audience notices. I never know what it will be exactly, but I stay open and try to use it. A big sneeze, a wandering photographer, or a distinctive laugh…if they notice it (and I’ll usually know when their heads turn,) I try to find a way to work it into whatever I am saying. The hope is to pierce the veil between myself and the audience. It is my subtle way of saying “I am here with you and I am one of you…I am not a television image or a computer screen.”

    Normally, I find a way to make it humorous, but not at their expense. Last month, I posed a hypothetical question very early in a keynote. To my surprise (and to my right) a couple of hands immediately shot up to answer. My initial thought was to respond with “hey eager beavers, that was just a hypothetical question!” That would have been potentially awkward and could have created even more perceived distance between us.

    Instead, I bought a few more seconds to think by redirecting to “the gentleman with the mustache” to answer. No one said anything. Again, I said “you sir…with the mustache” Again, no response. Finally, I said “you sir…right there in the purple polo shirt and the mustache.” The response I heard was “I’m wearing a purple polo shirt and you’re pointing right at me, but I don’t have a mustache.”

    The lights had cast a shadow on his face, and I honestly did think I was seeing a mustache. Even after he told me he didn’t have one, I still saw facial hair. I took a three-beat pause with eyes wide open for effect. “Wow, I sure do wish you all could come up here and see what I am seeing!” was my eventual come back. I don’t think this response was all that funny, but it got a big, unexpected laugh anyway. This “in the moment” moment helped me connect as a real person who makes mistakes, but who can laugh at themselves about it.

  • I speak twice weekly in my work at Canyon Ranch as a healh and wellness expert. The audience is always different and in many ways expecting to learn things that are not discussed in mainstream media. So I need to parlay a great deal of enthusiasm, interactivity, and cutting edge knowledge into a 50 minute time frame. Since new knowledge can be intimidating, I use my natural sense of humor (i.e. I am myself) my clinical psychotherapy skills of creating therapeutic alliance, and the southern hospitality I was raised with (albeit in a northern vocal spin). I use my voice (trained in hypnotherapy) to encourage ease and comfort in the audience as I prepare them for an energetic journey through my lecture presentations. I create animated PowerPoints that tell the message in images (little text) but I am careful not to appear dependant of the technology. I notice when people are looking at me (I do alot of direct eye contact) and when they are focused on the overhead image. I notice body language. When I am saying something and someone leans forward or nods their head, I often launch into a story that gives an example thereby truly connecting with the “room’s familiarity” with that part of the message.

    I connect with my audience via the power of storytelling – the entire presentation actually feels like a story to the audience. Yet they walk away with powerful, functional tools to address the subject matter (be it stress resilience, personal development, relationships, inner leadership, etc.) They aways feel they learned something new, but it didn’t feel like a college lecture!

    I believe this is successful for me as it results in clinical bookings at Canyon Ranch (people always come up to ask me things after the presentation) and in public speaking domains where I speak on contract, this approach results in newsletter signups, back of room product sales, and interest in having me speak for other groups.

  • I am a relative beginner at public speaking but i firmly believe that right at the beginnig of the presentation you should try a comment on a shared experience with your audience. For example this week i was presenting the final breakout session of 6 over 3 days. My introduction just said how priviledged i felt to be the final speaker selected to talk with the “survivors”. The whole audience laughed and we were immediately working together

    Richard Cook

  • You engage your audience by establishing your absolute relevance to them. Engagement, if only based on exercises or questions that have little, if anything, to do with their work or their lives, will be superficial at best. If, however, you immediately demonstrate that your presentation will help them measurably improve their work, lives, etc. – then you get meaningful engagement.

    To the degree that you understand your audience – TRULY understand them – you can engage them in a substantive way.

    So – the foundation for engagement takes place in your research for the presentation. Engagement begins before you ever set foot on the stage. TRUE engagement lies in preparation.

    A speaker who gives the audience truly valuable information or insight, even if that audience sits quietly through the entire presentation, may be ranked much higher on “engagement” than the speaker who has an audience laughing and talking, but gives them little of real value.

    I saw audience members laugh and cheer through a speaker’s presentation and then say, in the hallway afterwards, “Well, that was a waste of time.”

    Deliver value. Value engages.

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  • have a conversation with your audience! Too many speakers have a ‘speech’ or a keynote and it never changes. You can’t connect with people when you are doing that – it’s one way communication. Watch them constantly – and be outside yourself all the time – nothing is about you when you are on stage – it’s about the people in the room and what they are doing – how they are reacting…under=standing group dynamics makes a huge difference..acknowledging what they are feeling – or making a comment about the difficulties they are currently experiences – even if it’s a hangover – all make them feel you are really talking to them….have them interact with each other and then bring them back to you – rather than just having them shout out stuff to you – although that works sometimes too! I guess i went into lecturing mode! sorry! For me every presentation is a dance – th audience and i are the dance partners and together we do a tango or a fox trot or the twist (am i ancient or what?!!) and every dance is different like every dance partner – learn how to flow with them and lead them once you understand them! I create a separate language with my audiences that connects us as well! I hope that was what you wanted Jane!! zooties

  • How I Captivate My Audience by Steve Rizzo
    No matter what group I’m speaking to or what program I’m giving, I always start off with 5 to 10 minutes of non-stop comedy. Why? Because nothing can captivate an audience and hold their attention more than “The Power Of Laughter.” As soon as the laughter starts I can actually feel the tension in the room dissipate. Their energy level is cranked and everyone is primed for a good time. I heard someone say that today we live in the “United States Of Entertainment.” I believe speakers have to adhere to this statement. We are living in an age were the attention span of the average audience is about 30 minutes out of a 60 minute span. To make matters more challenging, audience members are twittering, text messaging, e-mailing and even answering their cell phones during a presentation. Unless a speaker has some kind of entertaining quality, they run the risk of loosing their personal connection with the audience. Laughter isn’t the only way to engage an audience. But I believe it happens to be the most powerful way. Nothing can put an audience in a good mood more than laughter. Not even sex. And this is coming from someone of the male gender. What I mean is that, to most men sex is like pizza. When it’s hot, it’s great. When it’s cold…it’s still great. But I digress. A physiological and mental reaction takes place when you laugh. Laughter charges your inner battery and helps you cope with tough times. Laughter is an instant mind-shift that comes from a higher part of you. It has a soothing quality that can lift your spirits and instantly break down barriers that can otherwise stand between a speaker and the audience. Let’s face it, people love to laugh and they love people who can make them laugh. This is where “the-trust-factor” comes into play. In other words, if they like me they will trust me. This gives me the opportunity to gradually weave my message in and around the laughter. Through the guise of humor I teach people the skills they need to get to a better place at work and in life. Here’s the big pay off. My ability to make the audience laugh not only helps me to hold their attention, but also aides in them enjoying the entire process. Studies have shown if you are having fun as you learn you will ingest more information. As one of my clients said, “Never has my group laughed so hard and learned so much in one sitting! Thanks for the ride!”

  • What has worked for me so far, is this: Engage with the audience, allow them to engage with you. I try to allow enough flexibility in my presentation to be able to bounce off the vibe of the audience. This allows me to respond directly to their reactions – and react directly to their comments or answers to my questions. I use their energy and work it into the words I chose and alter my delivery accordingly. Some audiences respond better a a more casual “discussion” format while others are expecting (and desire) a more formal “lecture” approach.

    I try to begin lightly with something light and local – some comment or question about the town I’m in, this starts to close the gap and proverbial “distance” between the audience and myself. Then I make some outstanding or ridiculous opening statement. (I often begin with saying “I am SOO AWESOME!”) I also work a question in that is relevant to my topic and not blatantly obvious. (something like “Don’t you want to be awesome too?”) This encourages dialogue, allows me to start to get a feel for the vibe of the “room” and provides more “material” for me to work into the presentation. I try to sprinkle questions periodically through the presentation – keeping that gap closed 🙂 I also find that if I reiterate a comment from an audience member, later on in the talk, it reminds them that I’m paying attention, makes that person feel kinda cool 😉 and encourages more alert participation.

    Of course, I find that using “personal stories” that are told well, are relevant and not drawn out work well to establish a “personal” feel. 🙂 All of these have worked for me.

    I’m enjoying some of the great comments posted here as well!!

  • Thanks for starting this kind of conversation on your blog. All those who participated shared some amazing insights. Great take-aways for my business as well. Much appreciated.

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