Think about your last speech. Do you know what the listener was thinking as you spoke? Were there distracted people? People on the edge of their seats? Did they laugh? Did they nod in approval of your message?
Whether you believe in psychics or not, you must become a mind reader.
Yes, I said it. You need to learn to read your audience's mind. Why? Because if you don't you will not know if they are really “with you” when you speak. I have seen people actually text while they were listening to me before. Not a great feeling. It is a truly humbling and disappointing feeling to see that look in someone's eyes that says “I wonder when this speech is going to wrap up.” Not good. Thankfully, that doesn't happen anymore (not that I can see anyways).
Hey, there will always be someone that you don't connect with (Speaker Les Brown says that 1 out of 10 will NEVER connect with you). However, there are 3 ways to “read your audience's mind”. When you say something, and your audience is thinking it as well, you will make a connection that is unbeatable! Your audience will laugh with you, they will feel with you, and they will make that “hmmm” sound that tells you that they are on the same page – the page YOU want them to be on.
Now there are speakers that do this, but many times, they are just GUESSING. They THINK the audience “may be thinking...” something. However, by recording and listening to your speech, you can be MUCH more accurate with those questions.
One of the most powerful ways to do this is to use the word Imagine. When you use this word, you paint a picture then lead them where you want them to go. Talk about the scene that you will be talking about in your story, then lead them into YOUR story. When they see their own pictures before hearing your story, they will relate to you even more.
Find a way to prepare your audience for your story ahead of time, so that once you are talking about YOUR story, they are seeing pictures from THEIR lives.
Whether you get your audience to raise your hand's or not, these questions are called “Hand Raiser” questions.
“Have you ever failed in life?”
“Can you remember a time when you loved someone?”
“Do you know any negative people?”
These are just some examples of “Planted Seed” questions. They plant the seed of what you are going to be talking about in the mind of your listener. They have an added benefit however – they allow the audience to picture THEIR stories, while they listen to yours. Here is something to remember:
When the audience reflects on THEIR story, they remember YOUR story.
Remember to ask these kinds of questions during your speech, and your audience will be on your page of your story, for your entire speech.
That's a GREAT feeling to have.
Canadian Certified Public Speaking Coach
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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.