As a copywriter, one of the nuggets of wisdom I’ve gotten from Michael Masterson is to be as specific as possible in regards to my targeted prospects’ wants, needs, and desires. The same holds true when giving a speech (or seminar).
One of the ways to make yourself a more in demand speaker (and command higher fees) is to customize each presentation for that particular audience.
For example, I remember giving a speech for the Association of Engineers. Now engineers are an interesting group of men and women who always seem to be at odds with their longtime nemeses: architects. That is because they often have to work together on the same projects, and typically butt heads.
In my presentation I called it a “Hatfield and McCoy” relationship, and got a huge LAUGH and APPLAUSE from the audience.
You see, the pain of dealing with architects is so prevalent in an engineer’s life that just mentioning their common enemy evokes a response. I mean, all I had to say was, “But don’t tell THAT to the architects”… and the audience went wild.
Afterward, the president of the Association complimented me on having given them a fresh look at “their world” from an outsider’s perspective.
If you, too, want to deliver meaningful speeches that resonate with YOUR audiences — and enjoy the kudos — do your homework. Dig deeply into your research and arm yourself with ammo that’s specific to each audience’s location and purpose.
Laying the Groundwork for Connecting With Your Audience
Some speakers go on autopilot. By that, I mean they develop a polished presentation that’s repeated line for line and gesture for gesture at every event — and it soon becomes stale. These presenters are taking the easy way out, and they’re not fooling anyone… especially their audiences. Mea culpa: In effective public speaking, one size does NOT fit all.
To avoid falling into this trap, and to create consistently persuasive presentations, you have to learn how to customize your material. Not to suit your agenda, but to suit your audiences. Do this and your speeches will resonate deeper with your listeners.
When you connect with your listeners on this level, you meet them where they are in their lives, both personally and professionally. Best of all, as your experience grows, it will become second nature to you in every speech you give.
Just as audiences vary, so will the purpose of your presentation. So during the entire time you’re speaking, you need to be aware of your main goal. It might be to sell a product or service… to inform… to inspire… to move your listeners to action. But keep in mind that, in just about every scenario, your goal should have something to do with providing a solution to your audience’s problems.
The logistics and acoustics of your venues will vary as well. So you need to know, in advance, such things as the kind of equipment you’ll be using, the size of the stage, and where you’ll be located in relation to your audience. (Tip: To quickly bond with your audience, it’s best to be as close to them as possible.)
The Critical Questions to Ask Before an Engagement
To help you accomplish your mission, here are the important questions to ask the client, event planner, or organizer:
- Where will the event take place? (classroom, banquet hall, etc.)
- Can I make back-of-the-room sales after my presentation?
- What equipment will be present and at my disposal? (microphones, spotlight, PowerPoint projector, etc.)
- What will the podium setup be like?
- Can I use cue cards or a tele-prompter?
- How many people will be in the audience?
- What will they be like? (gender, age, profession, etc.)
- What do they know about my topic?
- Is their company requiring them to attend?
- Are they paying to attend? Is their company picking up the tab?
- What is the measure of success for this audience?
- What is the critical message for this audience?
- Are there any subjects that I should avoid?
Never forget that your role as a communicator is to craft a very specific speech that meets the requirements, as closely as possible, of whoever hired you. The best way to do that is to truly KNOW your audience.
Yes, it is possible to walk into a room cold and deliver a speech. But even if you’re an experienced speaker, it will take longer for you to win over your audience and longer to get your message across.
Just as no two snowflakes are alike, no two presentations should be alike… no matter how many times you talk on the same subject! So prepare, prepare, prepare, and you’ll give a riveting presentation every time![Ed. Note: Peter “The Reinvention Guy” Fogel is an award-winning improvisational humorist, author, sales writer, and National Speakers Association speaker who has given presentations across America, including Early to Rise and American Writers & Artists Inc. (AWAI) conferences. He is also the creator of Peter Fogel’s Guide to Effective Public Speaking. For more information on his products, including his FREE 7 Days to Effective Public Speaking e-course, go to www.publicspeaklikeapro.com.
As you’ve just learned, being prepared and being specific is vital to giving a great speech. The same thing is true of writing advertising copy. Being specific about how your product can help your prospects will make your copy much stronger, increasing sales and boosting your profits.
But exactly how can you be “more specific” in your copy? In the Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting from American Writers & Artists Inc., you can learn this technique, as well as dozens of other powerful strategies, tricks of the trade, and more, from A-level copywriters like Michael Masterson, Paul Hollingshead, and Don Mahoney.