Make your audience feel valued. They are the most important part of your story

By | July 5, 2016

Are you listening?

Have you ever been at a networking event having a conversation with someone, and they are looking over your shoulder to see who else more interesting may be around?  I have a fascination for the way people communicate and I often observe this happening.

Lisa Evans are you listening speaking savvy

It’s incredibly rude! of course, not all people are like that. The people who truly value others will pay attention and listen, be present and focus on the person they are talking to.  Sadly, I have been to some ‘dump and run’ events – they go a bit like this….”Here’s my biz card, see ya later”,  and I’ll add you to my mailing list just because I said hi to you.  I hate those type of networking events and I avoid them at all costs!

We all want to feel valued

As humans, we want to feel valued and respected. As speakers, we are there to add value to the lives of our audience with the message and story we share. We want our audience to feel included, to feel valued, and their precious time respected.

A captivating speaker has the ability to reach out to each one of the audience members with their story. As we watch and listen to a great speaker we feel drawn in, we feel included, and at times we may feel like the speaker is talking directly to us.

That’s the power of an engaging presenter and a good story. It takes work and dedication, it takes practice but you will be rewarded by knowing that you have made a difference in the lives of your audience.

Storytelling is a powerful way to build up a relationship with your audience and appeal to them on a deeper emotional level. I don’t mean a story about yourself (remember the over the shoulder networkers?), one that the audience can relate to, can visualize and even imagine themselves in that story. Remember storytelling, not story ego.

What is the universal emotion you are sharing?

When you are considering what story you’d like to share, think about the emotion that it evokes. It is love, fear, courage, anger, frustration?
Even though it’s your story and only you can tell it, everyone in the audience has experienced that same universal emotion. If you are able to tell the story in a way that taps into the sensory areas of their brain, they will connect and relate to that story from their own perspective.
You know you have done a good job as a storyteller when an audience member approaches you to tell you their story. Not to tell you how good yours is!
Share stories with a  universal human emotion. If you tell the story in a way that taps into their senses they may well be thinking –  yes I get that, I’ve been there, I’ve felt  that way too.

The story we don’t want to hear

There are some speakers around who are only interested in telling the audience how qualified and experienced they are (ever heard those bios that take two minutes for the MC to read?) or tell us all about their products.
The speaker who is more concerned about their ego that their audience will not be able to connect. Listeners will switch off if a speaker comes across as inauthentic.
If your speech is mainly about you, don’t expect to make a difference to others. Your speech needs to be about your listeners and how you can help them. Aim to be present in their world and ensure your material is relevant to them.
Your audience is the most important factor in your story. Get into their world and ensure the message is relevant to them.
Lisa Evans, MBA is a Certified World Class Speaking and Storytelling Coach, Keynote Speaker and TEDx Speaker Coach. Based Australia, Lisa works with leaders globally to help them craft and deliver powerful presentations and compelling business stories.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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