As a presenter, you are an expert in the content you are sharing. As an expert, you may find that you distance yourself from your audience with your knowledge. For this reason, it is vital that you build a common ground between you and your audience. Common ground is the place where your content can come to life while your audience stays connected and engaged.
But how do you build common ground? How do you take your high-level content and connect it to the core of your audience? At Ethos3, we have found 3 proven ways to build common ground and leave your audience not simply filled with information but inspired to do something about it.
Draw them into a story.
Stories are powerful. They take your content and bring the facts and figures to life, creating a real-world connection for your audience. However, simply telling a story is not enough to create common ground with your audience. You must tell a story that relates to your audience.
For example: if you are presenting about the impact running a marathon has on your body, telling a story about the marathon you just ran is likely not the best story to create common ground. The odds are that most of your audience has not ran a marathon, so it will be hard for them to comprehend your story or feel connected to your story. Instead, you should tell a story that would relate to the largest population of people in your audience, making them feel connected to you and like they have something in common with you.
Use a large percentage statistic.
Statistics are a great way to shock your audience and catch their attention. They can also be used to build a bridge with your audience. Select a statistic that encompasses large masses of people and present it early on in your presentation. Using this method of common ground will serve two purposes as it grabs your audience’s attention and builds connection between you and them.
It is important to note that any time a statistic is used, you must verify that statistic. The quickest way to lose your audience’s trust and respect is to share a statistic that is inaccurate or could be believed to be made up.
Ask for a show of hands.
The show of hands exercise is a powerful tool to building common ground between you and your audience. It is also an impactful way to build common ground amongst your audience. When you have your audience raise their hands, they will inevitably look around and realize that they are not so different than the people sitting around them.
Show of hands questions should be used in such a way to illicit the largest amount of hands possible. If only a few hands are raised, the common ground factor will decrease. We recommend you come prepared with several questions as back up in case your first question flops.
Common ground is crucial to long-term engagement with your audience. It is the fiber that ties the room together and helps your audience feel like they are having a discussion with you rather than being talked at. Consider implementing one of these principles in every presentation to increase engagement as well as overall connection with your audience.
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