Learn to Like Your Audience

How to get ‘Liked’ by your Audience

Have you ever been to a presentation when it very quickly becomes obvious that the speaker almost immediately has the audience on his side? It appears that right from the outset that he or she has magically created a rapport with each listener and has their undivided attention. People are looking at the speaker, there is nothing distracting them, mobiles and PDA’s are switched off and their is an air of expectation in the room as the presentation begins. The audience has warmed to the person who has come to inform, entertain, teach or persuade them and everybody is in a very receptive mood. It becomes apparent that right from the moment the speaker is introduced, the audience appears to ‘like’ this person, even if they have never seen them before.

How do they do that? How can a speaker get his audience to not just accept the situation where they are going to have to listen to him for a while – but are actually looking forward to it? Is it just that the speaker is one of those natural ‘likeable’ characters, do they have to be overly physically attractive or an obvious extrovert?

If you think about some of the recognised great speakers you will realise that this is not always the case by any means.

How can you then as a speaker produce this effect? By looking at the situation from another aspect, turn the relationship around as it were and approach it from a different angle. How about you starting off by liking the audience? Every time you appear in front of an audience, no matter what size, the speech or presentation or lecture or sermon is not just a monologue but is an interactive experience. As the presenter it is down to you to initiate that connection and the secret is to start it off with a positive indication that you like the person who is listening to you.

This doesn’t mean that you have to like every individual in the room, or even know everybody, but if you have the right mental approach and give the impression that you like the people assembled in front of you, it will show in your body language, your facial expressions and the tone of your voice. Because, as we mentioned in the previous paragraph, your presentation, “is an interactive experience” your behaviour on the platform or stage will gain feedback from the audience and will to a great extent mirror your actions.
Bubble Conversation 2This happens in a one to one conversation, glare at your listener and you will provoke hostility, smile and you encourage friendliness, shout at someone and they will respond by being aggressive back, speak kindly and you will gain a listening ear, show indifference and you will lose your listeners attention, be engaging and you will earn a positive connection! It is equally true in a speaker and audience situation. It is down to you to produce the right feeling or personal ambience.

( Above Image courtesy of Master isolated images at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

To get into the right frame of mind or positive attitude towards your audience, take a few simple steps, for example;

Take time to acquaint yourself with a few individuals before the presentation begins, this will enable you to make meaningful eye contact with them right from the start. When this is accompanied by a smile it is usually returned and others in the audience notice and it produces a ‘feelgood’ effect. The psychology is that when you smile or have eye contact with an individual in the audience that person temporarily becomes the representative contact between the speaker and the whole audience, and the audience as a whole feel connected. Sometimes this even causes other members of the audience to exchange smiles with that same ‘target’ person and produces a ‘togetherness’ or ‘group’ feeling which adds to the experience.

By commencing with a basic warmth and friendly relationship with an audience, the resulting feedback is warm and friendly as well and that will certainly make the presentation more of a success.

Tony James - Speaker CoachClick: Here to access my free “Mini Guide to Confident Speaking”

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