3 Ways to Connect With Your Audience

Learning to connect with an audience in the first thirty seconds is key to becoming a more effective speaker or presenter. Why do some people seem to connect with audiences more quickly than others? They know the secrets to connecting! People deliver more than 30 million presentations and speeches annually as part of their work. Now, many face the challenge of connecting with audiences in a virtual setting without all the benefits that go with being “with” people in the same room. 

The best presenters and speakers know how to create messages that match what is most important to their audience. This allows them to build trust. For three decades our coaching team has helped professionals hone their speaking and communication skills. Here is what we see the best of the best do to connect with audiences.

1. Make it Worth Their Time

Most people know in the first thirty seconds if a presenter is going to deliver useful information. Therefore your opening remarks should be compelling and make the audience curious about what you have to say. We live in a world of ever-shrinking attention spans, so people will tune you out quickly if they think you are going to waste their time.

“One of the biggest mistakes many people make is starting their presentation in “self” perspective! It is one of the least engaging ways to open!”

– Gail Borden, Benchmark Communications

Sadly, too many presenters start their presentations in “self” perspective – focused on themselves and what they are going to talk about. The “star” of your presentation should be the information you deliver. Therefore it should be packaged in a compelling and memorable way. At the end of your presentation the audience should be able to clearly repeat one or two things you shared. You will connect with your audience when you leave them with the gift of memorable information they can use!

2. Match Audience Culture

You might think of culture as the identity of the audience. If you mismatch your audience’s identity in the first thirty seconds, then you risk losing them. They will tune out. Their “internal critic” will start finding reasons not to listen to you. Therefore the best speakers do something in the opening to match the culture and truly connect with their audience. 

We recently helped a leader plan a virtual presentation with an audience in a rural area; he is not from that community. But he did serve at the local military base and enjoyed his time there. It was a perfect way for him to connect; they knew he was in some way connected to their culture and way of life.

3. Match Audience Beliefs

It is also important for presenters to match the audience’s core beliefs in the first thirty seconds! This is true because you must earn permission to be heard and this requires an awareness of beliefs and how they work. If your presentation opening is full of things that rub the audience’s beliefs, they will tune you out! You will not connect with your audience!

You certainly do not want to pretend to agree with audience beliefs – when you really do not! But you must at least acknowledge the beliefs that are most important to your audience. You establish trust and credibility when you do this. You might think of this as clearing the air. When an audience knows that you “get” what is most important to them, then they can breathe and listen to you. Otherwise, you never address “the elephant in the room” and you get less than ideal results.

Build Trust With Better Messaging

We live in a world where public trust levels have plunged in recent years. People are more skeptical. This means you must invest more time to really match your audience. The rewards are great when you learn to connect with your audience by creating messages that match!

About Benchmark Communications

You can call on Benchmark to help you and your team improve your ability to connect, influence and lead. We offer a range of leadership, communication, and reputation management services. So the next time you have a consulting, training, or coaching need contact us and let’s talk!