Three quick tips for improving your connection with your audience

Nick Morgan, author of Trust Me: Four Steps to Authenticity and Charisma, is one of the nation's top communication coaches. He graciously contributed the following post. Please take a moment to explore Nick's blog and his wonderful insights contained within. 

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Connection with an audience is a goal all speakers want to achieve, but it can be elusive.  How can you ensure that your connection with your audience is quick and durable?  By remembering that a connected communication is reciprocal, consistent, and social.

 

Be Reciprocal

People feel obligated to listen if you’ve listened to them.  Some self-absorbed people never reciprocate, but most of us do because the golden rule is deeply baked into our psyches.  So a good way to begin a communication is to find out what the other person (or group) has on its mind.

 

A classic mistake that many consultants make when they’re meeting a client for the first time, in either informal settings or more formal presentations, is to begin “by introducing ourselves.”  So, the first ten minutes or so of the discussion is all about them. Nothing could be less engaging for the potential client. Why should she care?

 

A much better way is to begin by showing that you understand the client’s problems. Even better is to get the client to tell you her problem. Either way is more connecting and involving than the self-introduction.

 

Be Consistent

Connected communication is consistent. We don’t like to experience ourselves as inconsistent, so if I can snare your attention once, I’m likely to be able to get it again unless I’ve abused the privilege.  People prefer the familiar to the strange in most things.  Why go to all the work of developing a new source or finding a new expert if the old one will do?  Once a celebrity, a newscaster, or a politician reaches the top of the heap, the sheer inertia of their audiences will keep them there until they do something egregious enough to warrant pushing them out and finding a replacement.  So begin your presentations by stressing your connection with the audience or its celebrities, and stress the familiar aspects of message before the more unusual. 

 

Be Social

Connected communication is social. If everyone’s doing it, we’re more likely to join in unless we have an oppositional streak. Communications success breeds communications success.  This explains fads and the popularity of otherwise inexplicable things (like Barry Manilow).  Malcolm Gladwell has explored this aspect of communication thoroughly in his brilliant book, The Tipping Point. He argues that a combination of people who are naturally more gregarious than the rest of us and the theory that ideas spread like infectious diseases adds up to a moment when suddenly everyone is aware of a new idea, phenomenon, or fad. We are social beings, and run in packs.  So connect with your audience by stressing the social aspects of your message.