Connecting with Your Audience
The prep is done. You have practiced your business presentation over and over until you feel comfortable with the content and flow. Now it is simply a matter of delivering your message for real — in front of an audience that matters — and being able to connect with your audience during a presentation.

The problem is that, regardless of how well prepared you are, if you don’t connect with your audience, your presentation will fall flat. The whole point of the session is to persuade your audience to action, right?

Knowing Your Audience
The key to connecting with your audience is to know who is out there and what they care about. To show you truly care about their needs and issues, speak personally to your listeners, and stick around afterward to answer any specific questions they may have.

Stay in Control
There are so many ways that your audience’s attention can stray. You need to be able to read what’s going on out there and adjust as necessary. You need to be flexible and make decisions on the spot that keep you and your audience on track.

Are They Listening?
You need to be sure your message is resonating with your listeners. This is more than simply having good eye contact. Certainly, you can tell if they are paying attention. The signs of inattention are rather obvious: side bar conversations, fidgeting with cell phones, nodding off, rustling through papers.

When you see these indicators that your presentation is far from a call-to-arms, you need to up your game. Move around, vary your tone of voice, ask a question, pick up the pace, zero in on the consequences of inaction on your audience’s part. You may then re-capture their attention. But are they really listening?

Read the Clues
Scan the audience and be aware of:

  • More than the Occasional Interruption
    If you are able to deliver your talk without being interrupted by the audience jumping in with questions or with their own ideas and opinions, it is likely that you are on target and your listeners are in tune with you.
  • Lack of a Unified Response
    If your audience reacts in unison to your presentation by laughing at a joke, nodding as you underline a main point, or raising hands when you poll for agreement, then you can move forward knowing that they are with you.
  • Questions that Are Off Point
    If you are getting questions that have little relevance to your message or demonstrate confusion, you had better back-pedal and clarify. Somewhere along the line you lost your audience and the impact you had hoped for. It is better to solicit questions after each crucial point and make sure you are being fully understood.

The Bottom Line
Even well-prepared sales presentations can miss the mark if you do not know your audience, constantly read their reactions to ensure they are listening, and pivot, as needed, to regain their attention. Are you doing all you can to connect?

To learn more about how to connect with your audience during a presentation, download How to Present to Senior Executives Like a Rock Star

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