Although public speaking is generally regarded as a monologue, this monologue is usually addressed to a willing and receptive audience who desire to learn from you as much as you desire to offer them something worthy. However, it has to be said that how much your audience is able to learn from you, will depend to no small degree, on how you connect with your audience, in short on how effective your public speaking audience centered approach bears out.
Following are some common-sense, but effective points that, put into practice, will immediately improve your audience-centered approach to public speaking:
Greet your audience in advance
Minutes before your actual speaking engagement, why not walk around the venue and familiarize yourself with the people who will be listening to your speech or presentation? As the audience and the attendees arrive, offer them a warm and sincere greeting. The reason for this is that it is is so much easier to deliver a speech to people with whom your are acquainted, however briefly, than a sea of unfamiliar faces.
Trust in the fact that people expect and want you to succeed. Audiences want to be as informed, stimulated and entertained by you as they can be. If they have taken the trouble to attend your presentation or speech, they want to get as much out of the event as they can, so all paranoia aside, they are on your side. They empathize with you. If you fail, they cringe with you. Succeed and your audience reaps the benefits of message your great speaking performance set out to convey.
If you approach the audience by saying that you are nervous or if you express your apologies to any problems you think may exist about your speech or your speech delivery, you may be setting them up to focus on the very thing you are apologizing for. If you do bring up your fear, you're drawing your audience to the very thing you wanted them to . Relax and be silent and your audience will relax with you. Learn some basic deep breathing and relaxation techniques, such as those freely avalable on the Internet.
Establish strong eye contact
An audience-centered approach towards public speaking requires that you connect with your audience, appearing natural. You'll know you are well on your way to mastery when you can get the audience to nod their heads as an acknowledgement of what you are trying to convey. Do not breeze through your speech. Instead, pause for a while or for a brief moment, especially at those points you want to emphasize. You should also avail yourself of this opportunity to establish eye contact with your attendees as well as to catch that much needed breath.
Don't get drawn into a debate
If, during the question and answer part of your speaking engagement, all or part of you audience expresses disagreement with any part of your message, let go of the need to impose your point of view on your listeners. If you encounter those ‘awkward’ attendees who continue to make a point open for debate, getting into the debate can very often be highly counter-productive. The best way to deal with such ‘hecklers’ is to offer to continue the conversation after your speech. This not only demonstrates a high degree of professionalism, but it also allows you to get onto other questions from other attendees, without causing friction.
Incorporate the simple elements above into your speaking and you'll see that public speaking, an audience centered approach can work for you.
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