I have to admit, I was unusually nervous.
It was the first time I’d spoken live to a large audience in over a year, and the venue (Olympia, London) was a biggie.
Added to this the set up wasn’t ideal – my masterclass theatre was open air to the rest of the huge exhibition. So I had to fight against background music and the chatter of thousands of people and their clanking coffee cups.
Cue super sweaty palms.
But as people started filing in, I remembered the one thing that I always do to calm my nerves before a big speaking gig: speak to the audience.
I chatted to the early birds in the front row to see why they’d come and what their communication challenges were.
I found out:
- One guy was an incredible 7’ 1” tall and needed the extra legroom!
- Two frustrated recruiters couldn’t get through to clients on the phone or in person anymore so had to rely on email to do everything. And their emails weren’t working.
- A talent manager was struggling to get candidate’s attention online.
All gold dust for my talk.
So when I started speaking, the audience weren’t strangers to me anymore. I had names I could refer to. Real-life-in-the-room examples I could quote. And friendly faces smiling at me, as we’d already made a connection.
Look how happy it made me!
You can use this technique for an online talk or meeting too, with some chitchat with attendees as they enter your Zoom room.
It’s a simple and effective way to create an instant connection with your audience.
Hope this helps if you get the pre-speech jitters.