Better Presentation Skills – Pay Attention to Your Audience!

Always remember this: there is an audience in front of you!

I know that sounds obvious, but so many speakers do not pay attention to their audience. It’s as if they prepare and deliver their speech in a vacuum.

When preparing your presentation, think carefully about the audience. Who are they? Where are they from? What is their experience level with your topic? What is their mind set going to be when they walk into that room (i.e. is it early in the morning, after dinner and drinks, at the start of the event or end, etc)?

As you go over your presentation in advance, don’t just do this to familiarize yourself and memorize the words. Use this opportunity to visualize the audience and what you believe their response will be. I do this whenever I think about new jokes or humor to add to my speech. I really visualize what their response will be, and this gives me a good idea of whether the jokes are any good and should be used.

Will your visualizations of their responses always be right? No, of course not. Mine aren’t. But many times they will be, and at the very least this will remind you to pay attention to your audience.

It is equally important to pay attention to your audience when you are actually delivering the speech. I have seen many speakers get so absorbed in their content, notes, or PowerPoint that they fail to realize that the audience has lost interest.

Remember, you have not been asked “to speak,” to an audience, but rather to “convey information.” (or create an experience, if you are a humorist or motivational type). How can you know if your audience is “getting it” if you don’t pay attention to them?

The next time you deliver a speech, remind yourself to pay attention to your audience. Put it in your notes if you use them. Place a little note card somewhere you can see it to remind yourself. Build in pauses where you can stop, breathe, and connect with the audience.

The audience is the only reason you are there after all…