12 Most Down-to-Earth Ways to Build Relationships Through Public Speaking

12 Most Down-to-Earth Ways to Build Relationships Through Public Speaking

What is the best way to find new clients, network and build new relationships?

Public speaking. I once told a colleague this and she looked at me as if I was insane. She asked, “Build relationships? How can that be? There are so many people in the audience. How is that possible?”

Building relationships is not about selling the audience a product or service, but showing that you, the speaker, have the audience’s best interest in mind and you want them to succeed. Here are 12 most effective ways to build connections using public speaking that will build your business and your network.

1. Be yourself

The best way to build a trusting relationship with the audience is to simply be you. Let your own unique personality, style and sense of humor shine through. People can spot a fake a mile away — if you are trying to be someone you are not (or emulating another speaker), the audience knows and they will shut down.

2. It’s not about you

Speaking is never about the speaker. It’s about the audience. Worrying about how you sound or if you are making a fool out of yourself places yourself above the audience. Focusing on the audience alleviates nerves and allows speakers to connect to the people they are trying to reach.

3. Answer “what’s in it for me?”

Putting the audience first in the relationship means answering the all-important question “What’s in it for me?” Why should these people be listening to this presentation? What can they expect to learn from it? How will it help their business or their life? Telling the audience within the first two minutes of a presentation what they can expect to get shows that the speaker has the audience’s best interest in my mind.

4. Be passionate

Enthusiasm is contagious. If you are passionate about your topic, the audience will see how much you care and that you truly believe that they can benefit from your message. If you show your passion, the audience will be passionate and walk away from your presentation energized and wanting more.

5. Tell stories

Stories are powerful tools for emotional connection. A good story makes the speaker relatable. The audience can see themselves in a story. Personal stories build relationships because it allows the audience to get to know to the presenter.

6. Use charts sparingly

Avoid death by bar chart! Numbers can be powerful but too many bar charts can put the audience to sleep. Ask yourself — do I need this whole chart or do just a few numbers tell my story? Make the numbers relevant to the audience by explaining numbers in a way the audience can understand.

7. Don’t let PowerPoint distract the audience

PowerPoint presentations should never be a substitute for the speaker. If the audience can read your entire presentation from the slides, they don’t need you. They don’t need a relationship with you. Don’t let PowerPoint be a substitute for YOU!

8. Be prepared by practicing

Have you ever seen a presenter who stumbled their way through a presentation or read their entire speech? Did you pay attention or check out Facebook instead? Nothing says I don’t care about my audience like not practicing. Practicing a presentation shows that the speaker values the audience time and wants them to benefit from the message.

9. Don’t be perfect

There is a myth that you have to be perfect in order to be a good speaker. No stumbles or “umm’s”. Being too polished of a speaker makes you seem slick and inauthentic. Mistakes are natural and not at all a big deal to the audience. Mistakes make us human and relatable in the eyes of an audience.

10. You don’t need to know everything

Related to the myth of perfection, a speaker does not have to know everything about their topic. Get a question that you can’t answer; simply admit that you don’t know. Tell the questioner that you will find out the answer and get back to them. Never make up an answer if you don’t know. It will drive a wedge in the relationship that you are trying to cultivate with the audience.

11. Match the energy of the audience

Have you ever been to a presentation or meeting directly after lunch? Everyone seems sleepy, digesting food and the energy is rather low. A speaker that is high energy is rather jarring to the post-lunch crowd. Meet your audience where they are in the moment then slowly bringing their energy level up to match your own enthusiasm for the topic.

12. Interact with the audience

Get the audience involved in your presentation by asking them questions. It’s a great way for you to get to know them while speaking. At the end of a presentation ask them to turn to a partner and say what their biggest takeaway is from the presentation. Ask them to share it with you. It’s invaluable feedback to you as a speaker and allows you to get to know those faces who have been giving you their time.

Go out and present! Take advantage of the speaking opportunities that come your way as they help you build relationship and your business.

Have you ever successfully built relationships by presenting? What are your tips?

Featured image courtesy of via Creative Commons and ecstaticist.

Dr. Michelle Mazur

http://www.DrMichelleMazur.com

Speech Coach and Presentation Skills Trainer, Dr. Michelle Mazur, guides driven-to-succeed business professionals and independent business owners to ignite the smoldering fire within to speak up, speak out and make their impact — one compelling presentation at a time. Clients get noticed, promoted and paid more by overcoming their reluctance and learning to speak with authenticity and confidence, no matter how big or small their audience. To learn her proven approach to get ready for opportunity now — visit her website.

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15 comments
dbvickery
dbvickery

Great post, Michelle. I definitely bring the enthusiasm, and I get pretty animated. I like not having a podium and either having a wireless/lapel microphone or an intimate enough venue to not require a microphone. That let's me move around and engage the audience more effectively. And I love telling stories/anecdotes...

Jackie Bailey
Jackie Bailey

Love this information!   I hope to incorporate it into my own speaking opportunities!

MZazeela
MZazeela

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Michelle. I sell for a living and whether speaking to an audience or one to one, these are all ideas that resonate clearly.  And all of these ideas should be used together. I cannot think of any one that is more important than any of the others.

 

Cheers,Marc

philip1
philip1

Excellent post, Michelle!  Item #5 has a particular relevance to the where my life-journey has me now.  I am learning how to tell stories better.  Before I understood how important this skill is I used to talk about my feelings most of the time.  What I learned is that expressing my personal thoughts and emotions communicates self-centeredness.  Storytelling, on the other hand, has a long history of building community.

Thanks for tweeting the link @PegFitzpatrick 

westfallonline
westfallonline

I always try to reframe #3 into answering the question "Why?", and you touch on that in a way that really resonates with me.  I agree with you, people want to know:  Why are we here?  Why you? Why this? Why now?  

 

In some presentations, "What's in it for me" could be ...a difficult conversation.  For example, an unpleasant performance review, or some really challenging budget cuts, or something else that's undesirable.  But "why" focuses on the outcome and makes even a difficult journey worthwhile.  What do you think - is "why" the new "WIFM"?

Latest blog post: Why Fear is Your Friend

Scott Danielson
Scott Danielson

Great to see your advice on other sites @Michelle_Mazur!

 

I personally related to #11 and matching your audience's energy.  It always drives me crazy when a speaker makes you say hello about three times, louder each time of course, in an attempt to get the crowd psyched. The excitement is almost always fake and I quickly develop a negative first impression.

douglaserice
douglaserice

Excellent post, Michelle! My fav is #4: what's in it for me? That's the kicker, isn't it? I'm always humbled by the opportunity I have to speak to any group of being. They are surrendering their precious time to me. I always try to do everything within my power not to waste it.

Michelle_Mazur
Michelle_Mazur

 @dbvickery Thank you! I always feel that a lectern gets in the way of connecting with the audience. Glad to hear that you lose it and allow yourself to move around. I've been blessed with a loud voice so I love not using a mic as well. It just feels more authentic to me!

Michelle_Mazur
Michelle_Mazur

 @Jackie Bailey Thank you Jackie! I'm glad you found it useful and since I've seen you speak - I know you already do some of these tips. :-)

Michelle_Mazur
Michelle_Mazur

 @MZazeela Hi Marc! Sales is all about relationship building. I think you are absolutely correct that these ideas should be used together for maximum impact. 

Michelle_Mazur
Michelle_Mazur

 @philip1 Thank you for your comment Phillip! Storytelling is a powerful way to express ourselves. I feel that it has been somewhat of a lost art in our culture. We can get really focused on me - where as a story is relatable and some stories are down right universal. It really is an excellent way to build community. Plus, storytelling is a TON of fun!

Michelle_Mazur
Michelle_Mazur

 @westfallonline For conversations, especially difficult conversations, I think uncovering the why behind the what is most important for the person you are talking to. Even in presentation where a CEO has to give bad news, telling the audience why something is happening is very important but I still think there can be a bit of WIIFM in there. For example, "we had a bad quarter. We have to have make some deep budget cuts, but our goal is to keep your employee benefits the same." We have the what, the why and the WIIFM all mixed in. I do realize that there is no WIIFM - so the why becomes the most important aspect. 

 

Thank you so much for your comment! 

Michelle_Mazur
Michelle_Mazur

 @Scott Danielson Thank you Scott! That is one of my pet peeves too. If I am speaking after lunch, I know my audience is going to be low energy. Yelling "hello" enthusiastically is not going to make them digest their food faster and wake up. You have to meet their audience where they are and slowly bring their energy level up.

Michelle_Mazur
Michelle_Mazur

 @dougricesmbiz Thank you Doug! It is the kicker. Scott Berkun talks about the how gracious the gift of your audience time is so it is the speakers responsibility not to waste. He advocates that you tell your audience what they are going to get out of your presentation and how how much time you are going to spend on each point. Set their expectations and make it worthwhile for them all at the same time. 

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