Various types of speakers have the option to have a question and answer session. Keynote speakers generally do not have the time while speakers who are facilitators, trainers or who can speak longer, have a question and answer session.
For the audience, they can ask questions to clarify or get more information on what was said. For you as the speaker, you can answer questions and tie up any loose ends that your audience may have.
To start the process, assume your audience has questions. Ask your audience what questions do you have, then wait. Some speakers do not show patience and if no one asks in the first couple of seconds, they begin to move on to the next portion of their program. Give at least 10 seconds, which may feel like a minute. Keep the pause, for generally once the first question is asked, people will begin to feel more comfortable and follow suit asking questions.
When someone asks a question, before you answer, repeat the question so that everyone in the room knows what the question is. If you do not know the answer, say so. Never bluff. The audience can always tell.
Always have a time frame for your Q&A and adhere to it. Answer one final question, inform your audience that you will answer more questions at the end of the program. Then proceed to your close. Never have the Q&A as your close
Previously in another nugget, we wrote about doing an audience analysis on a new group of listeners. What about doing this same analysis on your monthly business meeting which you always speak at? Now analyzing your audience is always good. However if you know your audience, or more importantly an audience already knows you, you have different problems.
For example, what are you going to do or say differently to keep your audience excited and interested in hearing what you have to say? Many of us fall into a rut with how we say something. That is alright with brand new audiences but not with a group that hears you every month. We also tend to present the same basic way every time. What new techniques can we learn to have our audience look at our material from a different perspective?
Analyzing your audience whether known or unknown, is always good. It just has to be thought of differently
In any audience analysis you have to ask yourself, “Who is your audience?” Now we all are familiar with questions such as; age range, gender ratio, education levels, occupations and the group’s name. In his book, “Simply Speaking”, author David Greenberg reminds speakers to ask themselves the often forgotten question, “What is the attitude of your audience?”
Audience’s attitude towards you and your content is very important. An audience that wants to be there versus an audience that has to be there is totally different. We have all been in meetings that were required attendance and we wished to be any place other than that meeting. Our minds kept finding any reason not to pay attention. On the other hand, an event where we wanted to be there, time just seemed to fly by.
So, always remember the attitude of your audience and strive to give them what they want.
Whether you are speaking to a new group of business people or at your monthly business meeting, knowing what is important to your audience is extremely beneficial. This is why you need to do an audience analysis whether it is the first time or the 100th in front of your audience. Any audience analysis should always ask the 5 “W”s; who, what, where, when and why.
For example under why, you might want to answer the question: Why did they invite you to speak? Was it your expertise? Or was it your entertainment value? There is always a why. Knowing the why helps you the speaker to craft your presentation to answer this question. Digging deep into this question may lead you to understand what is really important. Many times speakers never ask themselves the why. They just assume the meeting planner decided out of the clear blue sky to put them on the meeting schedule.
Always start to analysis your audience!
One of the side benefits for all speakers is having stage presence. Every speaker on stage in front of an audience, large or small, wants to command the stage and have the audience pay attention to every word that is uttered. Speakers study and practice their speaking skills to achieve this.
One side benefit that anyone who speaks achieves by developing a stage presence is what happens when they walk into a room. People who can command a stage will also command a room that they walk into. The same skills that are used to have a presence when they are in front of an audience can be used when they walk into a room filled with strangers. Many people think that the skills they develop for being in front of audience do not work when they walk into a meeting room or in a social setting. You must realize that the same skill sets that you develop to speak in front of an audience whether it is 300 people or 10 people will help you when you walk into any room whether it is a social gathering or a business meeting.
So, the next time when you into a room and want to command, mentally pretend that you are in fact walking on to a stage!
We have all been told that the easiest way to make a point is to tell a story! Whether it is a point in business or to your kids, telling a story allows your intended audience to listen without being at first judgmental.
Now the most obvious question is, “Where do I get my stories?” The answer is easy, “Just look around you!” The problem we all face is the amount of stimuli that we face on a daily basis. An event happens to you in the morning which would make the basis of a great story but 60 minutes later you have already forgotten about it because someone just told you your afternoon meeting is cancelled. Now you are frustrated and are scrambling to change to a new time and place.
We are constantly exposed to ideas for great stories. However unless you write it down, you may lose the idea. That is why having a small notebook or a pocket recorder on you is the easiest way to remember these ideas. For example, as you are driving you see or think of an idea for a great story. You reach for your recorder and start to record yourself. Later you simply write down your idea into a few sentences or key phrases. Every month you review your notebook.
We all have great stories in us or that we see. We just have to remember them!!
When you speak to an audience, where and who do you look at? That is a question that is asked of many speaking coaches. It is important for any speaker to look and establish eye contact with your audience. If you are speaking to a small group whether in a classroom or in a small conference room, it is very easy to establish eye contact in those type of situations. It is simply looking at few individuals and establishing eye contact for 2 or 3 seconds to help form a bond. The difficulty comes when you are in a large room in front of 300-500 people. Where do you look? My experience has been to divide your audience into 5 sections. Two sections on the left and 2 sections on the right side of the room with one section in the middle. Find a friendly face to look at in each of these 5 sections. As you give your speech seek out these faces and establish eye contact and form a bond. Obviously in a large room each of your audience members will assume you are looking at them. However a bit of advice, don’t treat the room as a ping-pong table. Try not to establish a pattern of moving you back and forth like a ping-pong game.
Try to seek those faces and enjoy yourself!