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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

What Your Audiences Fear #2

Yesterday's post addressed the number one fear of audiences - speakers wasting their time. Today's fear is a very close second.

Audiences fear when we speakers focus on things they don't understand.

As a past high school teacher, I remember the number of times I did this in my own classroom. It's painful for students to sit through a class feeling unaware. Emotionally they are left with a complex of not feeling smart enough.

Can you relate to my high school students, listening to a presenter who speaks over your head? Who uses jargon or language you don't understand? Who gets carried away with information or stories you cannot relate to? Then you know first-hand the problem associated with audience fear #2 - feeling left out.

What this leads to is frustration, anger, exasperation and sometimes even hostility. It comes from feeling trapped listening to something that makes us feel inadequate. We presenters don't want audiences responding this way. It's stressful enough just getting in front of audiences.

We want to make the most out of our time with audiences, getting signs of reflection or approval, even participation.

So if we introverts are the presenters, consider how often we get emotionally overwhelmed when presenting that we only focus on what we know, forgetting the audience. That's when the spigot is turned on and our presentation flows on and on from an endless supply of information that often makes our listeners feel they are facing a fire hose. We have blasted them with information. Now they must defend themselves by throwing questions our way or escaping.

We presenters must make ourselves clear.

We presenters not only must relate to our audiences, we must remember that any time we are addressing them, we must connect what they know to what we know and from there move forward to inform or motivate.

Notice the order here: connect what they know to what we know. This order defers to our listeners first and then respectfully connects their world to ours. Not the other way around.

The first order of business for us presenters to defer focus to an audience is to discover their world, relevant to the presentation topic. Discovering the world of others may not be usual for an introvert, yet using our research and analytical abilities, it is in our skill set. While it puts our value on hold temporarily, deferring to our audience creates a relationship that leads us to be highly valued.

Therefore, we presenters must connect our audience circumstances to our topic. From there we presenters have a connection with our audiences that keeps them from escaping, instead, focused on familiar territory and following your lead.

Remove this second most common audience fear and make yourselves clear!