Audience Management

Want to be a More Powerful Speaker?

Extend your vocal range. You'd probably agree with me that one of the most crucial aspects of  an audience's ability to "hear" us is the amount of vocal contrast we use. (There are other contrast aspects too, topics for another day.) Coming across as varied enough is a key challenge that so many speakers have to face. Low vocal range equals low contrast, and low contrast leads to low engagement. We all have a natural range, don't we? Varying from very little change (almost monotone in delivery), to highly expressive...even dramatic! You can probably think of people who demonstrate very different ends of that scale! If...

Asked a Difficult Question? One Way to Navigate Away

Do you struggle with knowing what to say when asked a difficult question? One way to navigate away from it is by using a specific 'attention-directing' technique. Whether it's being hit with a tricky question during a meeting or presentation, or caught in a 1:1 situation and don't want your answer to be "I don't know" or "I'm not sure": here's a redirecting technique that can get you out of trouble: Asked a difficult question? One way to navigate away Zoom in or zoom out. 1. Zoom in: this is where you redirect by saying something like: “That’s taking a broad focus, which isn't within...

A Key Audience Engagement Piece

Want to engage your audiences more effectively? Remember this key point: the audience nearly always takes their cue from us. If we want them to be more than just informed by our presentation - and we usually do - we need to enable them to follow our lead easily. To motivate, lift, persuade or inspire...all of these need us as the speaker to model that behaviour. I'm not talking about being over the top - unless that's your style. Often quite subtle tweaks make all the difference. Here's how to think of it: An example from music I once worked with a conductor (in my...

4 Steps to Stay in Control when Challenged by an Audience Member

If you speak regularly in front of groups, at some point you're probably going to have your ideas, opinion or control challenged. And it may not be a perspective you hold lightly. Sometimes audience members can touch a nerve or challenge a deeply held value…if this has ever happened to you, you'll know that it can hit hard. Or perhaps you're not holding a strong viewpoint, but simply feel a bit raw that day: something in your life isn't working, or you feel vulnerable or unwell. I've certainly had to step up and run a group or speak to an audience while...

Intimidated by People with Power over You at Work?

It's so easy for this to happen. Whether you’re giving a presentation or having a conversation, feeling intimidated by people with power over you at work - either higher up the food chain, or with some other power over you - it can be a real challenge. Intimidated by People with Power over You at Work? My experience I vividly recall working with my first CEO client, years ago now. We’d spoken on the phone, and I turned up for our first coaching session. I remember getting into the lift of this expansive, echoing marble foyer, heart pounding, as I tried desperately to remind...

FAQs about Public Speaking and Presentations

There are some questions which I'm often asked - FAQ's - about public speaking and presentations. So here’s a list of 5 of the most common ones – see if any of them are ones you'd be asking yourself. FAQ's About Public Speaking and Presentations Q1. What's one of the most common public speaking mistakes? A. Too much content. I used to have this problem all the time, and it came from a combination of enthusiasm about the topic, wanting to give a huge amount of value, and fear that I would run out of content and be left with nothing else to...

How to Show Warmth to Any Audience

How can we deliberately show warmth to any audience? Or to a person we're about to communicate with 1:1? No matter what sort of a mood we're in before we speak, or how we feel about that audience? And fast? I've been working with a client this week on exactly this concept. I asked him how he believed he came across in meetings with his team when he opened the conversation - was there any specific process that he followed at the start? His reply was basically "No process...and how do I come across? It depends on how I'm feeling". This is totally...

Setting a Presentation Rhythm

A good way to get your audience's attention at the start of your talk is by setting a presentation rhythm. Lay out for them a plan about how your talk is going to unfold, and then follow that rhythm. You're basically giving an agenda, with rhythmic pace built into it. And it sounds simple, but I don't often see it done. The case for setting a presentation rhythm Rhythm is primal. Our connection to it starts before birth with our mother's heartbeat, and it's an integral part of our voice, speech and communication. And we've been communicating using rhythm for thousands of years...From...

Are Stories in Presentations Always Persuasive?

Using stories in presentations In today's video, I briefly discuss using stories in presentations to be more persuasive. The idea of using a story to help get your audience across the 'persuasion and influence' line is very common. Whether we're aiming to change people's mood, change their mind or get them to take real action. And when I talk about a story, I don't mean a cosy, fluffy tale, like someone reading to us in primary school or before we go to sleep! I simply mean using what I call 'humanity' to balance out facts, data, statistics. Most great presentations have a...

How Many Slides Should I Use?

I was working with a new executive client yesterday who had a list of questions for me including a burning one "how many slides should I use? I've got 62 at this point." He has an hour-long 5 year business plan presentation to give to his entire company in a couple of weeks. I'm often asked this question and obviously clients would love a definitive answer… however the true answer is "it depends". (But probably not 62!) How Many Slides Should I Use? A big point to remember around this whole 'slide' topic: you are the presentation, not your slides! Firstly: do you need slides...