One of the largest hindrances to a great presentation is the barriers that exist between presenter and audience. In some cases, they are physical barriers, and in other cases, they are mental and emotional barriers. While these may seem like the last thing on your mind as you prepare for and deliver your content, a single barrier can limit your ability to connect and ultimately hinder your engagement with the audience.
At Ethos3, we have worked with presenters who have battled every barrier you can imagine, and today, we are going to help you understand how to break down those barriers and connect with your audience on a new level.
One of the most common barriers a presenter will encounter are physical barriers. These can be anything from the gap between the stage and the audience to the lectern you are standing behind. These barriers create a disconnect between you and your audience that can cause them to feel isolated or disjointed with what you are sharing.
In an effort to break down these barriers, consider having as little in between you and your audience as possible. You can accomplish this by eliminating a lectern all together or choosing one that is minimally invasive. You can also choose to speak as close to the audience as possible while still being visible to the masses. One great way to break down barriers if you must speak from the stage is the kneeling delivery. This is when a presenter kneels down on one knee to get on the level of the audience, this should be used in strategic coaching moments where you really want your audience to lean in.
While physical barriers are easier to eliminate, emotional barriers can be very difficult to break down. Emotional barriers can range from how your audience feels about you, your content, and your demeanor to the personal experiences they are coming in with themselves. For some of your audience members, they could be stressed out and frustrated and your presentation is just one more thing to add to their plate, while others might be excited to see friends which can distract them from what you are sharing.
In order to break down these barriers, you must be in tune with where your audience is at. Take time prior to your presentation to speak with members and hear a little bit about them. This will allow you to get a pulse on who is in the audience and what barriers they may be building. Then when it comes time to deliver, capitalize on this information. If your audience seems overly worked and stressed out, relate to them and help them feel valued. If they are excited but looking to connect with those around them, give those opportunities. By foreseeing these barriers ahead of time, you can quickly break down those walls and build rapport with your audience.
Physical and emotional barriers are an important factor in audience engagement and connection. As a presenter, it is your job to break down these barriers and connect with your audience on a human level. This is a difficult task but well worth the effort as it will lead to lasting engagement.
At Ethos3, we love to spend time coaching our clients to deliver excellent presentations. If you are looking to elevate your presentation skills today, contact our team to find out how one of our coaches can help!
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