In one of my recent Boston public speaking courses a student asked how they would gain the confidence of an audience and be seen as an expert. As a public speaking trainer and expert I’ve heard this questions many times and I’d love to share my helpful tips on public speaking success. There are a few simple things that if done right will gain your audiences rapport and confidence.
Ask Questions Before You Arrive
Before you arrive at any public speaking event, conference or presentation you generally know who will be in attendance. Why not take advantage of this and use the opportunity to reach out to them via a simple phone call, email or note. It doesn’t really matter whether you know these individuals well or not, connecting with some basic networking skills and pointed questions will start the ball rolling. Ask them some questions about what they are looking forward to you covering at the event and if they have any suggestions. These directed questions will not only start up a relationship but also help you with knowing what they are expecting.
Connect via Social Networks
Modern social media is a powerful way to connect which eliminates the barriers we once had to many networking tasks. Once we had to run through hoops of numerous gatekeepers, office managers and management layers – no more. Take advantage of the opportunity you have to use networks like Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Youtube (or any other social network) to connect with those who will attend. Send them a nice message of introduction and a juicy subject you plan to cover in your speech. Ask for their feedback and insights. Remember the eternal network truth that giving always must be your primary directive. Ask how you might help them with the content of your speech or presentation. What would they like you to cover?
Arrive Early Meet Audience Members
Like most important events you should be there early and be prepared. Part of that preparation is (as I’ve outlined here) social. You should arrive early get everything set up and then go about meeting everyone some of the audience. Familiar or not you will with a few short introductions feel as though you are surrounded by a group of new friends. This, however, can only happen if you go out and network before your speech. You can even ask them right then and there if there are any particular areas they would like to see covered.
Make Eye Contact
In the hierarchy of human communication body language reigns supreme. Nearly every study places it at a top of what we must deliver in our communication mix. Effective eye contact is vital no matter your audience. As I’ve written before it is not “googlie eyes” or anxiously darting eyes that are helpful but calm, confident eye contact. Generally this is achieved by breaking up the audience into a few areas and sharing eye contact for a thought or idea. Think of the same rules you unconsciously use for eye contact with a group of friend and you will be closest to the rhythm needed. Make sure to look the audience in the eye and spend a few moments with each section of the audience in a smooth flow across the audience. I can guarantee the audience will be more engaged and excited to hear from you.
I’ve written before about the power of smile and it is still at the top of heap when it comes to gaining the confidence of your audience. Thinking about the ways you might deliver your content with a smile is something you should do during your speech practice period. But, generally, smiling is a good idea and it with put you and your audience in a positive and receptive state of mind. Smile and your audience will smile with you, but most importantly they will have confidence in your delivery.
Above all else HAVE FUN! Public speaking can be fun once you master the basics and dedicate time and effort to improve your craft. Deliver you speech with this positive attitude and your audience will perceive your confidence and expertise and like you even more. Public speaking can be an amazing experience if you re-frame it as such and deliver with that passion.
Wishing your success! =)
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