How To Lose Your Audience Before You Ever Open Your Mouth – Part 1

How Body Language Affects A Presentation

Whether you are a funny motivational speaker like me, interviewing for a job, a new CEO addressing your organization, or a sales person delivering a heavy content-rich sales presentation – you have an audience. Your ability to connect with your audience is heavily dependent upon your ability to make a positive emotional connection. People buy from people they like.  No matter what we’re “selling” the bottom line is that we are selling ourselves.

While there are many schools of thought on what makes for an entertaining, engaging, inspiring, informative, and effective presentation – that is not what I want to talk about today. Today I want to talk about those things turn an audience off before you ever open your mouth. Why spend hours and hours on your presentation, only to lose your audience before you even get a chance to give it? I’ve been in the audience and I’ve seen it happen. Lose your audience in the beginning and chances are good you will never get them back.

The Audience Starts In A Place Of Distrust
I like to think that my audience is excited and eager to hear what I have to say. I like to think that they are ready to hang on my every word and give me the full benefit of their every doubt. But I also like to think that my rear end is small and bell bottoms will come back in style. The hard cold truth is that most audience members are sitting there sizing you up, arms crossed in the universal stubborn position, wondering what gives you the credibility to be standing up there telling them what to do. That’s why they try to get the seat in the back – so they can sneak out when they can no longer stand the horror. People are busy and fiercely protective of their time. They will come into the room thinking of all the more important things they need to be doing.

Your Reputation Precedes You
In many cases, your audience has “met” you long before the event. Chances are good they received a promotional piece announcing your arrival. This is your first chance to connect. Use it wisely. Often you will have a bio in the program, or even a poster outside the conference room. Think about how you want to be presented and how you want to be received by your audience. Do you want to come across as an elite intellectual with a full schedule and much more important things to do than to be here with them? Do you want to be seen as down-to-earth? What does a boring bio do for you? How about a video introducing yourself to the attendees? It’s not as important what you choose to say, as much as it is important that you think about how you want them to feel about you.

Your Presentation Begins The Minute You Enter The Room
Or even better – the minute you step in to the parking lot. You never know where your audience may be lurking. She may be the woman washing her hands beside you, or ordering that iced coffee in the lobby café.  He may be in line behind you at the water fountain, or standing nearby when you yell at the desk clerk for giving you a room facing south. Something as simple as smiling at people when you pass will help you start to make positive emotional connections with your audience. They are very impressed when they know you were nice even when you didn’t have to be.

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