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.