Have you ever stepped onto an elevator, locked eyes with a complete stranger and instantly felt something?
Whether you felt attracted, afraid, comfortable, or even threatened, your feeling was undoubtedly brought on by a causal connection. Defining connection is as elusive as grabbing a hand full of wind. If you’ve ever uttered the phrase, “I really can’t explain it, but it just felt insert emotion,” you know exactly what I’m talking about. Translation for my left-brain readers: elevator + connection = emotion.
When speaking to an audience of any size, your first goal is to establish connection. From the start, go straight for their heart. Connection is king in communication because it holds the key to emotion which unlocks the door to influence. Gaining connection is easier said than done. Here are three surefire ways to guarantee connection with every audience every time:
1. The Larry King Principle
Prior to your speech, arrange short interviews with audience participants (10-20 mins).Three to five people from different levels or sections of the organization is plenty. Two things you want to uncover during the interview— (1) what keeps them up at night. (2) what they expect to learn from you. Directly address your findings in your speech.
2. The President’s Principle
Surely you’ve seen the president walking down the rope line shaking hands and kissing babies, right? Arrive early to your speaking engagement and press the flesh. Shake hands and have mini conversations. Find the known but unspoken challenge the group is facing. Remember a few names, faces and stories. Tastefully refer back to them and the group’s challenge from the platform.
3. The Joel Olsteen Principle
Stories are the gateway to the soul. Tell relevant stories. Add a sprinkle of humor and your audience will eat from the palm of your hand.
Failure to connect with your audience is like singing in the shower– it sounds great to you but anyone within earshot is probably praying you stop. Every time I’m gifted with an audience’s attention, I show my appreciation with a well-told, relevant story. The audience’s nods and laughs in the opening minutes of my speech are nonverbal cues that we’re connected and I have the green light to dive into my content.
As you prepare your next speech, think of connection as the first domino that sets all the others in motion. Which principle will you use to gain a faster and deeper connection with your next audience?