Build Audience Engagement
Audience engagement is one of the greatest challenges you will face as a speaker. As a leader, a disengaged audience, more notably disengaged employees become very costly to a business.
The way we communicate is changing and leaders today can not employ the old method of “top down” communications. It is progressing toward two way communications; communications that connect and engage people.
One way to build greater audience engagement is to change the energy of the room by your perceptions of the audience. Whether you are communicating, up, down or across organizations, to large or small groups, how you perceive the audience impacts how they respond and engage with you.
As human’s we are energy. We connect energetically. Whether we do this consciously or sub consciously we are either being drawn to something or moving away from it. Many people can walk into a room and have a “sense” of the feeling of the room. For myself, I walk into a room and once I gauge that feeling, I will decide which side to sit on.
As a speaker you can influence the “energy” of the room by changing your perceptions, your energy. If you walk into a room where you are a senior leader and you don’t really want to be having this conversation, you’re frustrated, disappointed; people feel that. People will start paying less attention to you. Or if you are speaking on a topic that you are an expert in and you view the audience as non experts. Both these speakers are putting themselves above the audience and this will not engage your audience. By the way the opposite is also true, speakers who put themselves below the audience, you know the ones who start apologizing or saying they are not sure how they were picked to speak, the audience switches off pretty quick.
So how can you change that? Let’s take the first example, say you are disappointed with employee performance. Before you walk into the room to speak, it is wise to picture yourself in the audience. To look for times when you have disappointed someone with your performance. To look deeper for the trigger on why you are frustrated; are you afraid to see where you do this, is it because you feared this would happen and are worried about the consequences? As you dig deeper you start to understand this from the audience perspective and this in turn guides you how to communicate with them in a way that will resonate.
It’s not to make any judgements about what should or shouldn’t be said or done, but that when you speak you are coming from a more balanced, heart centred space. You are open to seeing new opportunities and possibilities. From here whatever you need to say is far more genuine and will connect with the audience, they will want to listen to you.
You only need to look around the world at the “dictator” style leaders, they will prevent people from seeing the true side of certain groups, take refugees for example. Why? Because when fellow humans start to see themselves in the refugees; ie. perhaps they share the same job, same type of family structure, the same religion etc, all of these connections means the audience will feel compelled inside to reach out to engage and possibly support their cause. Which in this case these type of leaders don’t want.
As leaders and speakers though, you do want that engagement, so it’s important you build the connection. The more you connect with the audience by understanding them, the more genuine you are, and the more engaged your audience will be.
If you would love to engage more deeply with your audience, Denise offers one to one coaching for your communication requirements.