Audiences have changed over the years and successful speakers have adapted accordingly. Audiences used to tolerate lectures and would pay good money to hear one. In fact, celebrities, athletes and politicians would drive audiences in droves. This was in the 1970’s. They would sit there and listen, and eventually this became “same old same old.” Then, in the 80’s the audiences wanted more of a presentation. The speaker was like an actor, bigger than life, walking all over the stage but not connecting to the audience.
Then in the 90’s audiences wanted more of a conversation – where speakers were speaking from the heart. Some speakers took this too literally and thought they could just talk off the cuff. They started rambling, stopped practicing, and seemed disorganized on stage.
Next, audiences wanted an experience. They wanted to feel like they are a part of the presentation. In the early 2000’s, speakers started engaging audiences to high five each other, touch your heart, and other directives. Some speakers still use this, but we are evolving out of that era.
Related article: Speaking Has Changed
What Audiences Need: More of the Real You
Just before we went virtual, audiences started resonating most with naked authenticity. They want the speaker to be real. Audiences want to know who they are dealing with, what are their core values, and who we might be doing business with in the future. It’s important as a speaker to stand in your own power, and what is important to you. If you like golf, dogs, or of a faith, talk about it. Talk your core values and about who you really are. There is a caveat: I’m not talking about preaching about a cause you believe in or a wrong you need to right. We never want to preach about politics or religion or change people’s beliefs. You’re there to serve and share. People need to get to know the real you. When you sugar coat it, they can’t figure you out. Being authentic will draw them in.
How do I know all this?
Don’t believe me? I’ve been a speaker for three decades and I teach speaking to the brightest entrepreneurs out there as my full time business. My speaking calendar is always booked solid. So, I’m not only seeing the trends, I’m setting the trends.
The Biggest Challenge Speakers Face Today… Virtual Speaking
Now that we’ve gone virtual, everything is completely different. Yes, we want to be real, give audiences an experience, and they want us to speak from the heart.
Thus, we must combine all three trends and add to and ignite them with enthusiasm, and excitement, and passion. We have to come out of the computer into the room.
First, get a standup desk and stand when you speak. This will help you to raise your energy level and feel more like you are speaking to a group. When you sit down your energy is lower. If you don’t have a way to stand up, practice having full energy when sitting down. You’ll need muster up energy from waist up, hand gesturing, articulation, and looking into the camera. They can only see 50% of you so be more animated than you would be on a live stage. You need to bring on 100% of your energy with 50% of you showing. Your voice is key. Speak louder, use more vocal variety, so that you sound like you’re passionate and excited. If you just kick back, then you are blending in and won’t capture or keep their attention.
What Kind of Speaker Are You?
Choose what kind of speaker you will be in the virtual world. When you speak on a live stage, you are not in control of the environment. However, on the virtual stage you are. You are in charge of your stage, background, lights, and sound. And your viewers know it. If they can’t hear you or see you easily, they won’t listen or buy. This is why it’s so important to learn how to speak the right way on a live stage, and on a virtual stage.