Ty Boyd, Guest Author
The bright lights, the large stage, and hundreds or even thousands of eyes all focused on you to hear what you have to say. On top of that, you have to make sure the people far in the back can hear you so no one loses interest and walks out. All of this is intimidating if you don’t know how to connect with a large audience, whether for a lecture, consultation, or presentation. What is so different between large and small audiences and how do you connect with a large audience?
Some of the same techniques work well with both large and small audiences alike. You should still be the one in control, leading the discussion in front of the group. You should still be yourself, because both a large and small audience pick up on you trying to be someone you’re not. However, there are some key things you should be aware of before trying to connect with a large audience.
Scan the whole audience
If there is a large audience, you can’t just pick out one small section and speak to them. Speak to the entire group. Walk around, scan the crowd, and pick out a few sections across the back to gaze on periodically throughout your time on stage. If you focus predominately on one small sect of the group, you will lose the attention of the rest of the audience.
Fake it ‘til you make it
If you are one who struggles with confidence or just with getting in front of a large audience, try to fake confidence by smiling more often and cutting out filler words. Smiling keeps you from looking nervous (even if you’re shaking internally) and the audience responds to that. Cutting out filler words (uh, um, like, etc.) gives the audience more confidence you know what you’re saying and truly believe in the message. If the audience is comfortable with you being up there, you benefit from that and you will naturally “make it” to being the confident one in the lecture hall, presentation room, etc.
Do your research
If you are presenting or lecturing to a group of people with similar interests or work experiences, do your research on that area. Knowing where they are coming from gives you material to use to truly connect with a large audience of people. If you’re talking to a bunch of engineers but don’t know the first thing about physics, there are plenty of resources out there that can help you find some jokes that engineers might find funny. People want to laugh, and if your audience laughs, they will be at ease which will also calm you down.
Don’t rely on subtleties
Subtle messages and gestures are great for small groups but they are lost on large groups. Get rid of that when presenting to a large group and be overly emphatic with your gestures and messages. Larger groups rely on you to pump up the energy in the room, so go big or go home.
Sell with a story
A good way to start is to tell a story the audience can relate to and tie into the message of your presentation or lecture. This is where doing your research, being confident, energetic, and scanning the whole audience comes into play. If you can tie all of the above into a good attention grabber at the start, you are sure to connect with the audience coming out of the gate. Once there, continue to tie in overall concepts, points, or messages back to the story. If done right, all of the points can and will relate to the story so each time one of those points are made the audience as a whole has an “ah-ha!” moment.
Those are just a few of the numerous ways to connect with a large audience. If the above are done right, however, you will have no problem connecting with your audience, keeping them engaged, and getting the message across to everyone in the large lecture hall – all without breaking a sweat yourself!
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Larry James is a professional speaker and the author of three relationship books, “How to Really Love the One You’re With: Affirmative Guidelines for a Healthy Love Relationship,” “LoveNotes for Lovers: Words That Make Music for Two Hearts Dancing” and “Red Hot LoveNotes for Lovers.” His newest book is “Ten Commitments of Networking.” Larry James also offers “Author & Speaker” coaching. Contact: AuthorsandSpeakersNetwork.com, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. CelebrateLove@cox.net – More than 110 articles especially for Authors & Speakers at: www.AuthorsandSpeakersNetwork.com
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