How to Connect with Any Audience

Getting and keeping the audience’s attention during a presentation can be a challenge, but with the right techniques, it can be done. As a speaker, it is vital to make a personal connection with the audience. Your ability to establish this connection is what will make the difference between an audience that is engaged and listening and one that is bored. When you connect with your audience, you can capture and sustain their attention for the duration of your presentation. The end result is that they understand your message, remember it, and are compelled to act. Here are a few ways to connect with your audience. 

Share Personal Anecdotes

At the beginning of your presentation, you are but a mere stranger to the people in the audience. However, if you share personal anecdotes and experiences throughout your presentation, you feel more like a friend at the end. If you want your audience to connect with you, they need to get to know you and see you as someone who is relatable. You can do this by inserting bits and pieces of your personal life into your speech. Tell them about your daily routine, what your life is like with kids, or share a personal story about how you got to where you are today. These stories humanize you and show your audience that you are just like them. 

Make Eye Contact

Instead of staring at the podium, reading from slides, or looking directly at your PowerPoint the entire time, focus your eyes on your audience. Eye contact is critical for connecting with your audience. When you look your audience in the eyes, you are transforming them into active participants in your speech and your words now feel deeply personal. 

Use Your Body

In addition to eye contact, use your body to show your passion and enthusiasm for the topic. Move around the stage, smile, be mindful of your facial expressions, and look like you’re actually excited to be there. You can capture the audience’s attention just by the way you move, stand, and look at them. 

Interact with Your Audience

Ask a question that might begin like, “How many of you have ever experienced…?†Then ask them to raise their hand as you raise yours. Get them to nod their heads as you ask about things they can relate to. Take a poll and ask the audience to respond with a show of hands. Provide the audience with a short activity such as “Follow along with me as I describe how to make an apple pie.†All of the activities are ways to interact with your audience and get them involved in your presentation. Interacting with the audience not only keep them engaged, but it helps them connect with you as a person. 

Use Familiar References

If you are in a room with mechanics, you probably don’t want to start discussing the latest medical trends. Always use references and examples that your audience will find relatable. This could mean references that align with their profession. It could also mean making references to the city where they live. This is a great way to find common ground and connect over a topic they can all relate to.