Speaking success has everything to do with others, and not as much as you think to do with you.
The key statement to remember here is: In order to be Valuable, find out what others Value.
Many speakers share what they think is nice to say, instead of what their audience NEEDS to hear. Doing this leaves the audience cold. Not necessarily cold towards your message, but towards you. Sure you may get applause. Sure you may make an impact. But the impact you will make by truly tailoring your message to your audience is unbeatable.
Here's the good news – it doesn't take much to create a talk that connects on a deeper level with your audience.
Here are 5 strategies to use to do this:
Strategy #1: Create a Questionnaire
You don't know if you don't ask. Create a simple questionnaire that you send to the person that is inviting you to speak. Ask questions such as:
There are many examples online that you can research as well. Your questionnaire will also change over time, as you speak more. Here's the thing – start with something. Don't jump in blind.
The more you know, the more you can connect with your audience. The more you connect, the more buzz you will create, and business you will build.
Strategy #2: The Invitation Interview
My mother always tells me (even to this day), “Don't text or email what you can say.” She says this to protect me from anything permanent that I may want to take back. Words leave no paper trail.
The person that brings you in to speak may not write down what they REALLY want you to address. You may need to talk it out of them. A face to face (or at least phone) interview will often pull out issues that may not be written down or emailed.
Just like you shouldn't break up via text message (do people really do that?), you need to talk to the event planner or whoever books you to speak to make sure that you have covered ALL concerns that need to be addressed during your talk.
Strategy #3: The Audience Assessment
What a manager will tell you about the daily operations of a business is often MUCH different than what an employee will tell you.
Do your best to talk to as many different levels/sections of the group that you will be speaking to as possible. Get a full representation of your audience before you speak. That may mean asking the person who brought you in for a few different contacts. That may simply mean showing up early to talk to various people.
Get a feel first, and they WILL feel that you care.
Strategy #4: The Personal Points
Can you tailor even a small part of your speech that will only make sense to your specific audience? Is there a catch phrase, acronym, or motto that ONLY the people in that organization uses? Is there some aspect of their culture that you can bring into your presentation? If so, consider using something personal to your audience in your presentation. It will make a world of difference.
Strategy #5: The Comparison Chronicles
What is the demographic of your audience? Do you have a story in which you dealt with someone similar?
What is the challenge facing your audience? Do you have a story that outlines you facing a similar obstacle?
When you speak, tell stories to make your points. When you choose what stories to use, tell ones that allow your audience members to think “Wow, she dealt with someone just like me!” or “He overcame a similar obstacle! He understands me. I'll listen to his lesson.”
When you show Similarity, you create Credibility.
Use these 5 strategies, and get out there, make a connection, and change lives!
Keep Speaking, Sharing and Serving.
Kwesi Sekou Millington
Speaker & Certified World Class Speaking Coach
Kwesi Millington helps speakers to connect with their audiences and master their messages using the power of storytelling in their speeches & presentations. He is a Certified Public Speaking Coach & Youth Mentor.