Care for Your Audience
Welcome to Day 4. Previously, we discussed the importance of preparing the speech. Today, we’ll learn why caring for your audience will make you a respected speaker.
Theodore Roosevelt said, “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.”
The number-one rule of all great speakers is to care for and respect the audience. This can be done at key phases of the speech.
Care for Your Audience: Before the Speech
Every speaker has an obligation to know what their audience is expecting from them. Are they expecting an entertaining speech? Are they expecting to hear how to deal with their teenage children?
Respecting your audience before the speech is about understanding who they are and aligning your message to them:
• What are your audience’s beliefs and values? Do they believe in God or that all men are created equal? Do they value integrity or security or courage?
• What are their demographics? What gender are they? Do they have a specific cultural background? How old are they? Is education level a factor?
• What are they expecting to hear? Audiences always expect something from the speaker to fulfill a particular need. Are you solving a problem or influencing them to volunteer for something?
By thoroughly researching your audience before the presentation, you are respecting their needs and you will be in a much stronger position to meet their expectations.
Respect Your Audience: During the Speech
Respect for your audience during the speech is paramount to your integrity as a presenter. Always be alert to the audience reactions to your message.
As a presenter, you will be judged from the moment you walk “on stage.” You may find in the early part of your presentation that some members of the audience have their hands folded across their chest. This can be construed as, “Dear presenter, prove to me you are worthwhile listening to.” Good presenters will win over their audience with a strong message that meets their expectations.
To earn your audience’s respect:
• Always keep their self-esteem intact, no matter how they respond to your message or what questions they ask you.
• Always give them truthful answers to questions they ask.
• Do not spin your message or answer in the manner that many politicians do.
Respect Your Audience: After the Speech
If you want to leave a lasting impression, the best way to do this is to make yourself available after the formal presentations.
Meeting your audience demonstrates that you are interested in them and their opinions. Some may have questions or comments about your presentation. I call this time “audience listening time,” where you (the presenter) listen to what members of your audience are saying. Your audience will respect you for your politeness and consideration and may relish the encounter with you. An important benefit for you is that they may provide valuable feedback on your messages, and this will aid you in improving your speech.
If your audience knows you genuinely care, they will reciprocate and return your respect many times over and eagerly look forward to your next presentation.
In tomorrow’s lesson, we look at how you can connect with your audience by telling compelling stories.
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