Should you speak to your audience as a group or individuals?

Today’s topic is an important word choices distinction that can make a big difference to how your audience engages with you. Should you speak to your audience as a group or individuals?

It matters especially at the start when you first speak – remember that your opening words are often what make people decide to listen to you or not.

And this technique can also be important as you go through your content.

Let me illustrate it with an example.

I recently signed up for a newsletter from a US global influencer, originally known for the 4-Hour workweek, Tim Ferriss.

Some of the emails I’ve been receiving as a subscriber begin with the words “Hi all.”

For me, this isn’t the best greeting – why do you think that is? How do you feel when you read “Hi all”?

It may not bother you at all…but as a communicator/speaker, let me explain why it’s sometimes not great for connection.

We have two choices when we communicate with a group of people:

1. Treat them as a group: in Tim’s case, one global blob of email subscribers.

OR

2.  Communicate with me as a subscriber as if he were just talking to me.

Basically it comes down to this: when that email  with “Hi all” appears in my inbox – I don’t feel connected in the same way. I feel as though I’m part of a big machine on his email list. It’s less personal – and potentially less special!

The same thing can apply when we speak to a group.

1. We can either say something like “good morning everyone” – which means that I’m speaking to you as one group. And this may be exactly what I want to achieve.

2. But: if I want you to feel in the audience as if I’m talking just to you, I would say something like “good morning! Let’s get started”.

(Obviously you need to apply your own style and wording here.)

With the 2nd way, your goal is to make each audience member feel as though you’re speaking to them personally.This is usually more engaging than being lumped together in one group.

The same thing applies throughout. One more example:

1. There’s a difference between me saying “how many of you have ever…”? = seeing the audience member as part of a group.

2. Compared to this: “have you ever done…”? = the audience member feels as though they’re being directly spoken to.

Remember: ‘group speak’ maybe exactly what you need to achieve. If  you want people to feel part of one tribe and bonded, talk to them in group speak.

But if you want people to feel directly engaged with you, speak to them as if they’re an individual.

I trust that’s been helpful. Wishing you great speaking experiences!

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