Can I take you home?

It’s a provocative question and it probably worked in grabbing your attention, but I also wanted to ask it for another reason. Making the audience feel they’d like to take you home is a pretty good guide as to how you should be perceived when you’re delivering a talk or presentation; they should want to take you home. You should be charming, intriguing, involving and even challenging – as well as a whole lot more.

The importance of building a relationship with your audience is fundamental. Just because you’re standing in front of your audience, doesn’t mean anyone wants to listen to what you’ve got to say.  To make them listen you have to build a relationship; they need to know you and also believe you’re a friend.

This isn’t only my belief, it’s one that’s been recognised for thousands of  years – the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle declared that ethos was an essential part of an introduction; in other words you must tell the audience a little bit about yourself at the start of your talk. Don’t gloss over this information, even if you are familiar to your audience; don’t assume they know and can recall your background and qualifications. In a way you’re addressing the tiny voice in their heads that’s asking, ‘who is this person? Why should I believe anything they have to say?’

It always makes me smile when I hear others advising someone before their presentation ‘just be yourself’ – personally I don’t believe that advice helps at all; mainly because I’m not really sure who I am to start with. Perhaps what they’re really recommending is for you to be the ‘self’ that they know – warts and all. Disclose your private views; share confidences with your audience and you’ll build a relationship and warm relationships lead to feelings of trust. Trust in turn leads to influence. So be amusing, entertaining and ladle on the charm and they’ll be begging to take you home.

If you’d like to develop your skills as a public speaker then why not enrol on the next Successful Speaking Skills one-day workshop scheduled for Friday 1st November in Hatton Garden London, EC1. For details click here

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