Lesson 11 – What audiences love and hate and how to have them hooked!
This is a list of things I know from my own experience in an audience, as a speaker and as a host of events that I know people hate, loathe and love. With the lessons in this course you should be able to navigate away from the things that distract and bore your audiences and naturally encourage the things that make audiences fall in love with every word you have to say.
Here is a reminder of the things to avoid and how to ensure you avoid them like the plague and really get your audience hooked;
Audiences Hate This!
When speakers read from paper or their phone for ages not looking at the audience.
It can be damaging for 3 key reasons;
If you are reading from paper or your phone keep it brief, explain why you are reading from paper. (Don’t ever say I didn’t know I was going to speak so I’ve just wrote this.” Even on the spot you should be able to say something useful, relevant and interesting. Unless of course you don’t know what you are talking about!)
ACTION; For all of the places you are likely to be asked to speak, prepare something. It doesn’t have to be long. Examples of places you can find you have to say something when unprepared include;
Preparing an answer for these and others that may come up can help you feel more confident. (Also look out for the questions that crop up a lot in your life that you don’t usually have an answer for.) Years ago the one that I was asked a lot and put me on the spot was “So who is your perfect client?” Again many reasons why you should know the answer to this one!
Umms and aaaas. If you practice out loud and record your performance, you may spot umms and aas. The reason why people usually um or aa is because;
So firstly practice, practice practice and secondly remember from the video lesson that it is fine to not talk and have a breath. Find out why you are making these noises and you can then get rid of them. They are incredibly distracting to your audience and I have heard audiences say that they got to the point where they were so busy waiting for the next um that they didn’t hear what the speaker was saying!
ACTION; Record yourself speaking and watch the playback.
Do you spot how you deal with the moment when you can’t think of what to say?
How do you fill that air space?
What would be a better thing to do in the future? (Practice just breathing instead.)
Do ensure you take the time to record yourself (I know you don’t want to, you’ve not had a chance to do your hair, it’s not a good time, please put down the excuses and pick up the phone and record yourself. After this lesson you can delete if you want to!)
Fiddling. Any form of fiddling whether it’s your hair, jewellery or hands is distracting for your audience. When speaking to an audience you want to control the audience and have them hanging off of every word you say, that can’t happen if they are distracted by something you are unconsciously doing.
ACTION; From the above video of yourself speaking what do you notice? Any repeating traits that are likely to distract the audience?
Spoken to like children I was once in an audience and the speaker spoke to us like we were misbehaving 4 year olds, it was unpleasant for us and the speaker looked like an arrogant idiot! (Sorry I just can’t hold back on this level of honesty on this one!) Even children aren’t keen on being spoken to like that. Always treat your audience with absolute respect. This speaker went on to ask rhetorical questions in a way that you could tell the audience was visually getting cross, yet they didn’t change their language or tone. Be aware of your audience. What can work with one audience may not work the next day with another one. By watching your audience you can gauge how it is going as you speak and adjust your performance accordingly.
ACTION; I doubt you will need to do anything for this one but do be mindful of watching your audience and be aware of how they are reacting to your presentation.
Jargon People have a habit of using big words when they want to look clever and like they know what they are talking about. While it may make the speaker feel big it doesn’t do a lot for your audience. You are at risk of alienating your audience if you use jargon and big words. You may use words all of the time in your industry that are natural to you, but do question the use of every word you use in front of an audience. Remember you want your audience to remember and love you and stay in touch with you. Better still you want them buying from you and telling everyone how amazing you were as a speaker. They can’t do that if they didn’t understand a thing you said! Belittling your audience is never a good idea and unintentional jargon can risk you doing just that.
ACTION; Practice the kind of content you use and be honest with yourself. Do you spot language that is likely to be too complicated for your audience?
Disrespect Whether you are disrespecting another business or a belief or an opinion, don’t. It’s very dangerous ground. I’ve been in audiences where someone has done that only to have the person next to me say “I know the person they are speaking about!” It will get back to people so aim to be respectful. It can be tempting to say things like “Usually in our industry people charge you for this, we don’t” Or “Our competitors aren’t as good quality as us.” It’s much better to reframe these to positive statements, such as “We pride ourselves on going the extra mile and giving you this for free. It’s worth XXXX however it’s our way of showing we genuinely care.” Or “Because we use this technology we are able to give you an unrivalled quality. I’m happy to give you a demonstration so you can see the difference for yourself and learn more about the impact that this can have on xxxx” The other issue with disrespect is that you risk disrespecting someones views in the audience. That can ripple through an audience faster than a forest fire, so again don’t risk it.
ACTION; Look at how you communicate and check for negative talk and views that could offend or insult.
Swearing is a dodgy one, and I’ve fallen fowl of it too. While research tells us that people that swear are considered more passionate and believable you do risk upsetting your audiences. I always apologise if a swear word slips out. It’s never a bad one but even a word like “bloody” can be seen as inappropriate and rude to some people, so swear with absolute caution.
ACTION; Look for words and phrases that you could add to your speaking engagement that would create passion without causing offence.
Not answering questions. Everyone gets a question that they struggle to answer. Don’t waffle on and act the politician dodging the question you were asked. If you don’t know, say so. I recommend coaching clients to get a phrase pre-prepared in your head that is your go to reply for when you don’t know the answer. I highly recommend that you create one too. Something along the lines of;
“What a great question, if you give me your contact details I will get you an answer” You can with caution use “That is a great question, what do you think?” And lastly on the matter of answering questions never lie. Even if you don’t get found out that day, you will get discovered as a liar eventually and what does that do for your credibility?
ACTION; Create your own sentence that enables you to still feel in control but doesn’t dismiss your audiences question.
And lastly something speakers hate – Hecklers
Hecklers are tough to deal with. Not all hecklers are rude many have a habit of putting their hand up and then taking over your limelight to tell everyone how awesome they are! Not classy, ever. When that happens be polite and bring the conversation back around to you.
If they steal your thunder and say what you were going to say. Don’t say “I was about to say that.” Get their name (Can I ask your name please?) and say something like “Brilliant Angela, thank you for sharing, on this subject let’s now look at….” Or if your style is quite jokey and funny “Thank you Angela it’s like your in my head reading my thoughts, I better be careful what I think!” (and laugh). Handled well, this can really get the whole audience on your side.
ACTION; Create a sentence that enables you to deal with hecklers in a way that is natural to you. If you are unsure then get in touch or share some thoughts and ideas on the Insiders and we can guide you.
RECAP AND HOMEWORK; This is combined because I want you to recap on what you think is likely to impact on you. How are you going to fix it? How will you ensure you take action?
(Did you do the video and speak to your phone? Even if it felt like an epic fail, congratulate yourself on doing it. You are overcoming your fear and lack of confidence in being an awesome speaker by being prepared to do things that make you feel silly or foolish. Remember that.)