Having coached thousands of people now on their public speaking skills in front of an audience one thing that almost no-one thinks about or worries about – and possibly the most important factor of all – is one simple principle, know your audience.
Whether it is pitching to a board, speaking to a networking group, giving a eulogy or speaking from a big stage, there’s one thing that I have learned – everybody thinks they have a problem of some sort.
They believe their information is no good, too detailed, not detailed enough. They believe their nerves will get the better of them, and they will fumble over their words or even forget them. Then there is the worry that the AV won’t work. There are concerns about heckling, or awkward questions. Finally, they worry about marketing their talk – about getting the right message out. And all the while, they forget to concentrate on who they are speaking to.
Why it’s important you know your audience
You see, if you know who your audience is then it is easy to create the right content for them. If you know your audience and create the right content for them then you are going to make a better connection. If you make a better connection then you don’t need to worry about hecklers, or even about the AV, because if your talk is engaging enough – who needs slides?
So, what do I mean by “know your audience”? Well, I don’t mean you have to know them personally – although that would help!! What I mean is you DO need to have a very clear idea of who they are. You need to go granular.
“My audience is parents” – is OK, but it is not as powerful as “my audience is a 30-year-old Mum with 2 kids below the age of 5, who is employed, married and lives in the suburbs. She watches Love Island on TV on record (as she never has time to watch it live), and has her nails done once a month – that is her ME time. She wants to run her own business but can’t imagine how she would fit it in with the family…….etc etc.
Crafting your message to suit your audience
With this granular knowledge of who your audience is you can craft messages that are specific to her. You know what she aspires to, what she worries about, what keeps her up at night and what lights her up. You can speak to her – on video, on FB Live, on a stage or in a group – and she will feel you are speaking entirely and specifically to her.
When you have that level of connection with your audience your ability to influence is at its highest, and you can really help your audience by inspiring them, motivating them to take action, reassuring them they are not alone and they are understood.
So the next time you find yourself worrying about what to say, try concentrating instead on what your audience needs to hear.
Of course, this can be tricky if you are speaking on someone else’s stage. But even then – there will (hopefully) be some of your target audience in the crowd, so the same principle applies. Speak to her (or him) – speak to the one person you want to convey your message to, and it will be powerful and remembered by those it is supposed to reach.
How can I help?
If you need some help with defining who your audience is – drop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org – as there are tools and techniques I can share with you that will help.