How do you communicate with your audience?

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Do you get them enthusiastic and want to know more? J.D. Schramm, Lecturer at Stanford has advice on how to succeed in this short video:

The video speaks for itself and have a lot of useful tips you can use in order to differentiate your message depending on your audience.

Why do leaders need to know how to communicate? Do you structure your presentations along the lines Schramm suggest? Have you ever managed to get an audience excited about a dull subject you had to give a speech about? If so, how did you accomplish that? What is most important when you give a presentation? The visual, what you say or other techniques for involving the audience and make them want to know more? If so, what are the strategies you use to make them enthusiastic?

Video: Stanford Graduate School of Business – Picture: Maryland GovPics

34 thoughts on “How do you communicate with your audience?

  1. I have a degree in Communication Arts, and your video is spot one. The number one item you must remember, also noted in your video, is knowing your audience, and adopting your message to that audience. This is more complicated than it sounds, you must understand their educational level, current knowledge of topic etc. The more you can adopt your message to them, the more they can understand it.

  2. I once worked for a CEO who believed that communication was the most important function in the company. A CEO needs to communicate his/her vision to both internal and external audiences to achieve the organization's goals. I hope he shaves and wears a tie when he is consulting to business leaders as I found his appearance somewhat off-putting.

    1. True. But let's face it, Jeannette, the majority of the people in this world are not good communicators. Not even sure they can learn because they have the wrong mindset.

  3. I use visuals such as a PowerPoint presentation. I also make my sessions interactive as nobody likes being spoken at. I am not best pleased at sitting through presentations where no consideration has been given to engaging with the audience.

    1. True. But aren’t you sick and tired of powerpoint presentations? Understanding that one will be used almost puts me to sleep. The reason is that most people make such boring powerpoints and don’teven bother to learn their speech by heart but read from the powerpoint. It’s like telling your audicence they are not important enough for you to bother to learn you presentationa/speech.

  4. A very useful video with many good points. Its hard to capture all of the elements required to deliver an effective presentation, but this is a good start and quick shortcut for people trying to master communications. It's amazing what a difference effective communications can make on how well a message is received and how well respected a leader is.

    1. Agree with you Debra. And I truly wish people who are not able to communicate, for whatever reason, would stop giving powerpoint presentations that make us fall asleep.

  5. Great post, as usual very useful information.
    As for me, being I write historical living accurate fantasy novels, I always try to pass historical information onto my audience.
    I do this of course with my blog, and website, but I also like to attend renn and medieval fairs. You might be able to do mass communication with the web, but nothing replaces meeting people face-to-face.

  6. Most important thing to influence your audience is that you are master of the subject. . and your ability to prove it in your speech and body language. . Your body language should prove that you are master of the subject. on which you re speaking. , Secondly , your life style should also prove that you practice what you said.

  7. Catarina — I've done quite a lot of presentation training and his points are well taken. But he missed the most important element — whether you're speaking to one person or a large audience — the call to action. What do you want your audience to do? In the beginning of the sales process, for example, you don't ask for the order right away, you may ask for another meeting, or to meet with others in the organization. However, you need to know how to "close," by asking for the order at the appropriate time. Also, I was very disappointed by his appearance. He is discussing how to act like a leader, yet he has a scruffy beard and didn't wear a tie. That didn't communicate executive presence to me.
    My recent post Inc. 500 Ratchets Up Social Media Engagement

  8. Great video, Catarina! There is nothing worse than sitting through a dull lifeless presentation. When I givei a presentation I always try to keep my audience engaged, tailor my presentation to that specific audience, and ask questions. I think when Im able to share a personal experience that is relevant To the topic and resonates with them it grabs their attention also. I've heard pastors to that too and it works well.

  9. There's no question, Catarina, that one of the most important skills of a leader is effective communication. Without it, having your team understand your goals and objectives is very difficult, and inspiring them to work with you to succeed even more so. One often has to present fairly dull information and do so in a way that keeps the audience interested and involved.

    Too often, presenters get bogged down with the detail on slides and the audience ends up trying to read these – or, as bad, the presenter reads the slides to the audience. Visual aids are key, as is the clear excitement of the presenter in the information being presented. And when all else fails, remember Guy Kawasaki's 10/20/30 rule for presentations – no more than 10 slides, 20 minutes or a font size smaller than 30 point…

  10. JD Schram was talking about delivering a presentation verbally to a live audience of adults. The AIM approach is important to consider with other age groups as well. For instance, I taught high school for many years. Everyday I stood in front of different classes of students, a total of maybe 100 kids a day.

    How to “get them excited” about what they might perceive a “dull subject”? That was one of my challenges! One thing that helped a great deal was my NOT considering the subject dull. If I could feel engaged there was far more chance of my getting them engaged. I brainstormed approaches designed to get my creative juices flowing and their curiosity piqued, and usually the approaches were, indeed, visual.

    For instance, I might come into the room with red stained hands and an odd bottle with a big label that read “all the perfumes of Arabia.” Around the perimeter of the room I might have posted some unusual quotes. “What’s done can not be undone” ; “Out damned spot, out I say!” “By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes”; etc., etc. The students would start doing exactly what I wanted them to do, without my even telling them. They started questioning what the heck this was all about! The next step was for them to start predicting how the clues might be connected and what they might mean. The further we got into Shakespeare’s play, with attention being drawn back to the visual clues around the room and with the acting out of some of the scenes, the more hooked the students became. Studying a Shakespearean play was in no way a dull business!

    I saw a little example of this visual “luring” in a TED talk video with writer Amy Tan. She walked in with a carpet bag, put it on the floor beside her, and without a word of explanation, proceeded with her topic regarding the creative process. She had everyone’s attention right from the get go because she’d aroused their curiosity, which got them guessing. Her presentation was indeed effective.

    Thanks for your blog and the questions you posed, Caterina. I’ve enjoyed coming up with this reply.

  11. I've given presentations that have excited audiences or entertained them or just got their attention. I think the most important thing is that you have to be be passionate about what you are speaking about. if you are going to move an audience. If you aren't, you're an actor not a leader. And secondly, you have to flat out know your subject matter.

  12. Some years ago I conducted a presentation about organizing kids. It was a topic that I was excited, setting up play areas, kids dressup areas and playing house areas. My excitement helped the Moms get excited too. It's amazing how enthusiasm even on the most boring topic motivates others even if they didn't think it would be exciting to talk about. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Catarina, HOW you say something is equally as important as what you say. As a Toastmaster, we spend a lot of time learning how to infuse enthusiasm into our presentations, make direct eye contact with as many in the audience as possible, and use hand gestures to draw the audience in. I am a highly visual person, so I try to include visuals in my presentations, and seem to connect better with presentations by others who also incorporate visuals.
    My recent post embark on a northern safari to Churchill

  14. When communicating with others via presentation, I incorporate visuals with key words to support me. I bring in personal experience where possible as someone will always relate to this. It helps to calm my nerves when I touch on something which breaks the ice. I also encourage participation by asking questions.

    Communication is key and your approach will either capture or lose your audience.

    1. Absolutely, that's what I do as well. If someone tries to cause trouble though I tell him that it's an important question and we will talk about it after the presentation. If not, things can get really out of hand.

  15. Catarina, that was such a clear message – AIM – and I know it’s effective. On those occasions when I was able to make a presentation using the AIM approach I had the full attention of the audience. On days when I was less prepared a presentation didn’t go nearly as well.
    One other thing that stood out for me – I am not very effective when it comes to tweets and never thought to use the AIM approach there also, but will now as J.D. Schramm suggested.

  16. This was an interesting video. The AIM approach makes so much sense. Leaders can definitely communicate more effectively if they take time to consider their audience. I also found what Schramm said about thinking about how we speak the words and the visual presence we present. I’ve done that at a sub-conscious level but not thought about it consciously enough ahead of speaking.

    1. Glad you like it, Donna. Personally have found that the more I know about my audience the better. For me it works very well to use pictures that make the audience wander what on earth it is and then want to know more. Not to mention making them laugh.

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