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What Do Blind Dates and Speaking Have in Common?

What do blind dates and speaking have in common? More than you might think! With a blind date:

You know very little about the other person. When a speaker is booked to speak, they generally know very little about the audience they’re going to be speaking to.

You hope that the person you’re meeting knows enough about you to not be surprised or disappointed after they meet you. Audiences don’t always have a lot of information about the speaker beforehand. But speakers aren’t always given enough information about the audience beforehand either.

You pray you don’t need an exit strategy to make a quick getaway if every-thing goes wrong. Unfortunately, there are no exit strategies or quick getaways for speakers. Fortunately, speakers can employ a simple 3-step strategy to feel more like they’re speaking to a group of people they can relate to, rather than feeling like they're standing in front of a room full of strangers.

  1. When you are in communication with the person booking you, ask them questions that will help you get to know their audience. In fact, the best way to ensure that you ask all the right questions, is to come up with your list of questions ahead of time. Make sure to include as many audience related questions as you might ever need for any event, compile those questions into an “Audience Information Sheet,” and have a copy handy every time you book an engagement. You won’t always need to ask every question, but it’s better to be able to skip a question(s) that isn’t relevant, than it is to have to go back and ask after the fact.
  2. Do your own research. Speakers get hired because their content is a good fit with the goals and agenda of the host. Once you have a clear understanding of your host's goals and expectations, it's time to research your audience. That way, as you build your presentation, you will be in a better position to weave together the goals and expectations of both your host and your audience.
  3. Don’t forget to get the logistics of the venue you'll be dealing with. This is another time when a list of specific questions (and requests if you have any) will go a long way to helping you prepare. This list should include everything you think you might need to know about the room and the technology that’s available. But don’t forget to confirm simple things like: How long will I have to speak? Will there be time for Q&A? Will someone be speaking before me? Is someone speaking after me?

Each of these steps can go a long way to easing your nerves. And instead of feeling like you’re about to go on a blind date with an audience full of strangers, you’ll step on stage excited to share your content with a room full of people who will be just as excited about you when you’re done.

'Til we speak again,
~Beth