Today’s world is a noisy one. Everyone in your audience is busy and at any given moment, their attention is usually focused on more than one thing other than you.
Add to this dynamic the fact that today’s audiences are more informed than ever before. When they want information and answers, they’ll go to Google or their social platforms.
On the other hand, when someone wants to be entertained, learn something not normally available to the general public, and walk away with an experience to remember for many years to come, that’s when they usually take the time and trouble to become a member of your audience.
Successful speakers are the ones with reputations for delivering the latter and not the former. Which speaker are you?
The same challenge exists for me as a trial lawyer. Whether they know it or not, my jurors expect to be entertained. Because of their online experiences and what they watch on television, they’re preconditioned to expect a certain type of presentation and experience. If I don’t deliver that experience during a two-week trial, they may not deliver a verdict for my client.
Normally it’s possible to overcome all of these challenges with preparation, practice and a dash of enthusiasm. It’s a process that can be learned and it gets easier and easier the more you do it.
But there’s one element related to speaking that even the best speakers in the world are unable to change. It’s something that many speakers don’t think about too much, but I think it’s an issue that can determine the success of your presentation.
What I’m talking about is audience selection. Before you agree to take on your next speaking gig, make sure you’ll be presenting to an audience who shares similar interests, passions or goals as you.
Look, if you’re sharing your political thoughts from the stage to an audience full of people who share a completely different perspective than you, your words will probably fall on deaf ears. In fact, by the time you’re done, there’s a pretty good chance that no matter how brilliant or right you are, your audience is NOT going to be as impressed with you as you are. If the ideals and values of your audience substantially differ from yours, the connection just isn’t going to happen.
Sure, you can roll the dice and do your song and dance in front of a hostel audience. But unless you’re the big exception to the general rule, I just don’t think it’s a smart long-term move.
I’ve watched some very mediocre speakers rock the stage because they were presenting in front of the right audience. What they lacked in presentation skills they made up for with enthusiasm and the right audience. The often neglected factor in selecting the right audience in evaluating speaking opportunities can be more important to your success and reputation as a speaker than the quality of your presentation.
Furthermore, this concept applies while you’re speaking from the stage, in front of a jury, or even engaging in a debate on social media. Trust me, the same concepts and issues apply.
You can and use the same approach during discussions at the office and spirited debate on the social platforms. Despite who you are, how right you are, and how powerful your message is, your comments will not have the desired impact if presented to the wrong audience.
If you want to be a successful speaker, make sure you do two things.
First, make sure to be prepared. Take the time to do the research and do what needs to be done to be 100% prepared when you take the stage. Present in a way that pulls back the curtain and shares previously unavailable information, entertains and creates an experience that your audience will remember for the rest of their lives.
Second, make sure to do the above in front of an audience that shares similar interests, goals, and passions. If your audience loves Chocolate, then don’t give them Vanilla.
Learning how to say no to speaking opportunities that involve audiences who do not share congruent interest, goals and passions is just a smart way to manage your opportunities and speaking career. The result of following these two rules is that your reputation as a speaker will remain strong, and the door will remain open for more of the right opportunities to advance your speaking and business career.
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Mitch Jackson is an award winning California Trial Lawyer and in 2013 was named one of California’s Litigation Lawyers of the Year. In 2009 he was also recognized as one of Orange County’s Trial Lawyers of the Year. When he’s not in court trying cases, Mitch enjoys showing professionals, business owners and entrepreneurs how to use social media and live streaming to disrupt, hack and improve their professional relationships, businesses and practices. Connect with Mitch on Twitter @MitchJackson and Snapchat (CA_Lawyer) and law firm JacksonandWilson.com. Mitch’s live streaming videos are shared at Streaming. Lawyer and his popular weekly talk show is TheShow.live