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Own the Stage (virtual or in person)

Crush your next talk and leave your audience wanting more

It finally happened! You landed your dream speaking gig. You’re both excited and nervous at the same time. Excited you says, “This is my breakout opportunity! I’ve got this. I know my stuff and can’t wait to share my knowledge with a huge audience.” But then nervous you starts planting seeds of doubt…. “Oh my gosh. This is going to be a HUGE audience. I don’t have the same level of name recognition as some of the other speakers on the bill. Am I good enough to stand on the same stage as them?”

First of all, of course you’re good enough! You wouldn’t have been invited to speak if you weren’t. And that name recognition thing? Think about all the people that will know your name after you crush your talk! Now that you’ve dynamited your doubts, it’s time to put together the best presentation of your life and own the stage and leave your audience wanting more. If you really want to rock the stage, put your audience at the center.

“It’s not about you. It’s about your audience. Make your content relevant to your audience and they’ll be more engaged.”

Before we talk about how to engage on stage, let’s talk about what NOT to do. Take a moment to think about the worst presentation you’ve ever attended. You know, the one where you’re counting the seconds while the speaker drones along and starts to sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher, “womp, womp, womp, womp….” Well guess what, when you make the speech all about you, what YOU know about and what YOU want to talk about, not taking into account your audience’s interests, that’s what you sound like (sorry, the truth hurts). And this leads to a disengaged and bored audience.

Now think about the best presentation you’ve ever been to. Likely it felt like the speaker was talking directly to you. Like they just ‘got’ you. They struck a chord in some way or peaked your interest and left you nodding your head and shouting “yes, yes, yes!” in your head (or maybe even out loud).

Whether you want to motivate, inspire, persuade, educate or entertain your audience, the best way to do that is to tailor your speech or presentation to your audience. Even if you’re a seasoned speaker with a signature speech, you still need to understand who you’re talking to and adapt your content to match their interests. To do this, you need to know and understand your audience.

When you sit down to prepare your presentation, think through the following:

  • Who are they?

  • What do they care about?

  • What are their wants, needs and pain points?

  • What do they want to take from your talk?

  • Why will they listen to you?

  • How do they want to feel?

“Your job as a speaker is to engage your audience; pull them into the presentation and make them a part of it, not talk at them.”

Now that you know who your audience is and what their interests are, you can look for the sweet spot —the intersection of what you know and care about and what your audience wants to know and cares about.

When you find the sweet spot and tailor your talk to addressing your audience’s interests, you’ll hold their attention, create a greater emotional connection and leave a lasting impression.

Now go out there and crush it! You’ve got this.

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