Give your audience a sense of control, and they will love you.

Whenever I get up to speak, I remember one important rule: this talk is not about me.

One of the biggest reasons why people fail to engage an audience, and in fact why they get so nervous when speaking is that they put all the focus on themselves.

They fool themselves into thinking the audience is there to listen to them and is interested in them. They believe that what they decide is what the audience wants.

All these are delusional beliefs. The reverse is true.

Any audience you speak to is a group of individual people who all think for themselves, and about themselves first.

It is simply human nature to think from our own perspective. We can’t help it, and we can’t stop it. For this reason, when we listen to someone speaking to us, we are mostly seeking for what we will get out of it.

This is why I suggest giving the audience a sense of control.

I originally learned this idea from Scott Berkun, the author of Confessions Of A Public Speaker. In the book, Scott explains how he gives a sense of control to the audience.

“Once you have everyone’s attention, briefly outline how things will work. You’ll automatically earn 10 bonus points. They won’t even care much about the details of your plan, provided it is easy to follow and you don’t need to spend much time explaining it.”

Explaining what you’re going to say, or how the talk will flow is easy. 

Remember the old adage ‘tell em what you’re going to tell em.’

Then, if you like, you can ask for their agreement or consent. Of course, you will always get an agreement, but you will also get a better sense of buy-in to what you are saying.

In this way, you are handing back the power to the group of individuals sitting in front of you.

They know what they are going to get by listening to you, and they feel like they have been involved in the decision for it to happen.

Give the audience a sense of control and power, and they will love listening to what you have to say.

Daniel Midson-Short


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