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Which audiences are most difficult - large audiences or senior audiences?

We were delivering our new ‘Tell it like Ted’ course with a group of HR directors the other day (to find out more about this programme click here). We were looking at how some of the best Ted speakers engage and connect with their audience. I was reminded of an interview with the international Cellist Yo-Yo Ma. He was asked what the most difficult audience was to perform in front of. The interviewer wanted to know if it was more daunting playing to a large audience or in front of world leaders. His answer was immediate.
The most difficult audience, he said, is the one with whom there is no connection..
If you look at all the structuring tools for presentations, they all boil down to three questions:
  • What do I want to achieve with this message?
  • Who is the audience for this message?
  • How do I get what I want from that audience?
We can superficially answer questions like this very quickly. However, once we know who the audience is – their position, what’s important to them, their age and even any foibles or pet hates - the next step is to consider how we use the logical things we know and turn them into a connection. Because it is only once we have that human connection that we have the permission to make our point.
There are lots of great techniques for grabbing an audience’s attention at the start of a presentation/talk. To name a few, you can:
  • Tell a story
  • Make a strong statement – why should they listen to you, today
  • Be unexpected – a shocking statistic maybe
  • Use an interesting visual on a slide
  • Maybe even smile!!!
These things grab attention.
Yo-Yo Ma of course does none of this.
He walks on, with his Cello, sits down, looks at his audience, waits in silence, and when everyone in the room is ready… he starts to play.
Connection happens in that silence, before a note is played. Or for a communicator, before a word is spoken.
So, yes, use all the techniques above but, first use a moment of silence to connect. Connect as if you are starting a conversation, an important conversation with someone you like.

If you would like to be able to ‘tell it like Ted’. Have a look at the details of our new workshop or give us a call on 0207 470 7262
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