“I know there is strength in the differences between us. I know there is comfort, where we overlap.” –Ani DiFranco
One of the chapters in my new book begins with that quote. It’s the chapter on preparing about your audience. I say, “The more you know, the better the flow.”
The most important part of your speech preparation process is in knowing your audience. The better you know your audience, the better your words will flow. No magic potion here: analyzing your audience is hard work. Once you know who they are, you will be able to customize your presentation to their needs.
When you know the audience, you can find the overlap – the parts that are like you. Mostly, people like us, trust people like us. So find those points of connection! They can be in these areas:
- Attitudes and expectations
- Level of jargon and technical expertise
- Preferred way to receive information
- Time tolerances
- Level of interest in my subject
- Personal interests and hobbies
- “Hot buttons” – things that cause an instant positive or negative response
When you are in front of a group, you are transparent – in a way, naked. The steadiness of your eye contact and your tones of voice are obvious for all to see and hear. You know how they say integrity is doing the right thing when you think no one is watching? Well, real trust also comes from the actions you take before our eyes, when we are watching. And you do need to gain the trust of the audience. Trust is a function of character and confidence. The rational part of the brain has very little to do with whether you trust someone or not. Trust comes from the limbic part of the brain, and trust drives behavior.
It is so important, that often people don’t buy what you do – they buy YOU.