Get Your Audience to Help Carry your “Plank”

Written by Pam Chambers Be first to comment on this post.

My last blog was an analogy about how to get your audience to be the alternator to your battery. Here is another analogy: Get your audience to help carry your plank.

Have you ever tried to carry a plank of wood by yourself? It’s not easy. The challenge? Balance. If you lose balance, the plank can careen in all directions, causing mayhem and destruction.

Imagine that someone sees you trying to carry a plank by yourself. “Rusty” says, “Hey, let me give you a hand with that!” Rusty grabs the back end of the plank, you move to the front, and you point the way. Now it’s easy!

Think of this analogy as a way to get your audience to help you carry the “plank” of your presentation. All you need to do is start asking questions early on. If your questions are clear (and safe) the audience will respond. Now they are helping you carry your plank. Just announce your destination, and they will assist!

Get your audience to be your alternator

Written by Pam Chambers Be first to comment on this post.

One reason public speaking is so scary for most people is that you are on your own up there. You are vulnerable to people’s judgments and observations. You are separate from the herd, standing alone.

A great way to overcome this uncomfortable situation is to get your audience involved. Think of yourself as the battery in a vehicle. Think of your audience as the alternator. In a vehicle, the battery starts the engine. The alternator keeps the battery charged.

When you get your audience involved, the audience “charges” you. You stay energized, you are not alone, and you may end up with more energy than you started with.

The audience members doesn’t know that you need them to be your alternator. You need to make this clear by asking questions from the get-go. Within the first five minutes of your presentation, ask the following types of questions in this order:

  1. Rhetorical: “How many of us like trying new restaurants? I think we all do.”
  2. Show of hands: “Give me a show of hands. How many of you have tried a restaurant, new to you, in the past half year?”
  3. Question addressed to the group at large: “Can anyone recommend a restaurant and say what you liked about it?”
  4. Question addressed to a specific person: “Nathan, if I paid for you and a friend to have dinner at a restaurant of your choice, where would you go and why?”

During the remainder of your presentation, continue to ask questions in random order. This will cause your audience to be the alternator to your battery!


What to Not Be Honest About

Written by Pam Chambers Be first to comment on this post.

I bet you admire speakers who are genuine, authentic, and real. I know I do. An audience is smarter than any single individual. An audience has a collective intelligence that can sniff out dishonesty in mere seconds. Therefore, in my presentation skills classes, I teach people to be truthful. See these two examples:

“My mind just went blank. Where was I? Somebody help me out.”

“I don’t know the answer to that question, but I know where to find it. Please give me your business card and I’ll get back to you tomorrow.”

But then my clients went too far and started to be honest about two facts they should have kept to themselves:

  1. I’m really, really nervous.
  2. I didn’t prepare.

The audience doesn’t need (or want) to know about either of these. These statements lower the credibility of the speaker and cause the audience members to either worry that the speaker will fall apart in front of them, or to feel insulted that the speaker didn’t respect them enough to be prepared.

As for nervousness, people usually don’t look as nervous as they fear, and there are workable steps they can take to reduce nervousness ahead of time. (Breathing, visualizing, stretching.) As for not being prepared, there is little excuse for that. Even if you are suddenly called on to give a report in the boardroom, you can say, “Could you give me a few minutes to prepare my thoughts?”

Be honest with discretion.