Are You as Surprised as I Am?May 14, 2019
To be clear, this article isn’t about the kind of warm up that includes exercises you might do before playing tennis or swimming laps. Nor is it about putting on a sweater to warm up—which would be bad advice when it’s scorching hot like it has been this past weekend.
A few months back, I wrote an article about how to warm yourself up
as a speaker. It focused on how to get yourself into a "speaker" state of mind so that you’re ready to take the stage. Today’s article is about how to warm up your audience... which frankly, not many speakers do. But taking the time to do this can really help your audience see you as a real person and not just a voice on the stage. Before I start sharing ideas about how to warm up your audience though, let’s clarify what warming up an audience isn’t.
Introductions aside, you are rarely going to have an opening act to set the mood for you. There will be times when no one has even heard of you before you start speaking too. And yes, I know those two realities might wake up some of those pesky public speaking fears you might have, but this is one of those times when identifying what you do and don’t have control over is going to make it easier to focus on what you can do.
What can you do to warm up your audience? Consider these 4 Be’s, which you have total control over….
- Be Strategic: Make the effort to find out as much as you can about your future audience ahead of time. Also, ask your event planner if they would be willing to share information about you with their audience. If the event planner says "yes," share content that’s going to "warm up" your audience to both you and your topic. And obviously, if they have a website… need I say more?
- Be Approachable: Get to your event early so you have time to meet some of the people you’re going to be speaking to. It’s unlikely you’re going to be able to meet everyone ahead of time, but never underestimate the power of a sincere handshake and a genuine smile.
- Be Authentic: Just by observing the rules of common courtesy and genuinely showing interest in someone, you’re making it easier for the person you’re talking to—and anyone else who’s nearby—to warm up to you and your topic. So, when you’re meeting people for the first time (or the second for that matter), don’t think of it as a goal/opportunity for you to make a good impression. Think of it as an opportunity to get to know more about the people you’re there for. You’ve done your research. You know that different audiences require different questions too, so now you can come up with questions someone in this audience might be willing and/or excited to answer.
- Be Grateful: There are very few times when gratitude doesn’t make things better. When meeting people, it’s about remembering that every speaker’s goal is to make some aspect of someone else’s life better. How cool is that? Meeting people before you take the stage is definitely something to be grateful for because you might meet someone whose life is going to change—even if it’s just a small change—for the better just because they heard you speak!
Each of these Be’s is a simple way to achieve your ultimate goal of connecting with people in a way that encourages them to want to keep the conversation going. Meeting people before you speak is like a short cut into people’s ears and minds, and maybe even their hearts. The beauty of doing it at this time of year is that most often you’ll be doing it in air-conditioned comfort!
'Til we speak again