The last few minutes before you stand up to share your presentation can seem like only a few seconds if you’re nervous and apprehensive about speaking in public. While the audience files into the room and settles in their seats most speakers I’ve seen will find themselves a private corner and go into a period of introspection. They start our thinking about their opening few words before allowing their thoughts to drift into other areas. They’ll start to wonder and question themselves. What if things go wrong? What if I don’t get the reaction I expect from the audience? What if the audience doesn’t like me?
A load of what if!
A load of thoughts all centred on the individual… What would happen if we turned those questions around and you started thinking about your audience? What if you took the time to meet and mingle with the audience as they enter the room? You’ll find any barriers between you and your audience breaking down before your eyes. For starters you will build an all important connection between you and individual audience members – allowing you to find allies in sea of strange faces when you step up to speak. And, while you probably won’t get the opportunity to speak to every individual before your presentation you will be seen by everyone as you chat and move throughout the room before it’s your turn to step into the spotlight. Your audience will appreciate this demonstration of care and because you are taking the time to communicate with them individually they’ll reward you in kind.
By taking the time to meet and greet the audience you will also build up a picture of the mood and mindset of the audience – providing you a barometer upon which you can set your expectations of audience reaction. If you know before you step into the spotlight that the audience has just heard bad news then you can make last minute customisations to your speech and you’ll know that if a joke gets muted laughs it’s because of factors outside your control and not your delivery.
It’s a natural reaction to want to tuck yourself away in a corner and mentally “prepare” before you speak. However it’s counterproductive. Why not use the time to do everything you can to make your speech or presentation a success? Go and meet as many members of your audience as you can and build a connection with the audience before you start your presentation. What if you found allies in the room who will agree with what you have to say? What if you can gauge the reaction before you start your speech? What if your speech is a success?