Superior Presentations 69: Don't Speak at the Audience, Instead...

Speak to One Person at a Time

If you want to connect with the people in your audience you need to talk to each person one at a time. Each person needs to feel, "The speaker is talking to me!"

How do you accomplish that?

With direct eye contact and the right language.
Eye Contact
Imagine having lunch with a colleague who is sitting directly across the table from you. Throughout the 45-minute lunch that person never looks at you - not while you are talking or even while that person is talking to you. That person looks at the meal, out the window or at other people in the restaurant. Apparently you don't deserve even a sideways glance. How would you feel?

Now imagine how your audience might feel if you don't look at them. It's not enough to look at them as a group. Instead you must look a person directly in the eyes. As you deliver your presentation don't deliver a speech to the crowd. Instead make it appear that you are having many one-on-one conversations. Deliver a sentence or phrase to one person then connect with another, then another - until each person in the room feels that "The speaker spoke to me." You can enhance the feeling by occasionally smiling at an individual.

You might need to check your notes or your slides occasionally but make it a point to be looking at an individual 80% of the time.
Conversational Language

Use language that talks to an individual.

The most important word that helps you establish the one-to-one connection is the word "you". Say, "I'm happy to see you today." "Here's how this will help you." "You might be wondering how this works."

Don't say "you guys". That's trailer trash talk. It's okay when chatting with buddies at the bar but not for a business presentation. In addition it's treating your audience as a mob not individuals.

Construct and deliver every sentence as if you were talking to one person. When you look at a person, imagine that person is the only one you are talking to.

Avoid using these mob words: anybody, everybody and crowd.

How is everybody today? That's bad for two reasons. It lumps the people into a mob. It's also a dumb question because no one can speak for everybody.

Does anybody have a question? That's similar to everybody. It's a mob word and it's a dumb question.

What might you say instead? How are you today? Do you have a question?

Notice the difference.

Don't deliver a speech at your audience. Instead connect with each person by engaging in many one-on-one conversations.

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