Category Archive Blog

ByBill Belew

Diary of a Presentation | -9 days | Reaching out to attendees

Know Your Listeners

Know Your Listeners

Nine days from now I will be speaking to a study group that are actively engaged in learning more about marketing. They are entrepreneur wannabes, start ups and dreamers.

My assignment is to teach them a marketing technique that I have mastered.

They are also interested in becoming more proficient public speakers.

I have a list of the attendees who have signed up to date.

Related: Improve your listening skills.

I went to the list to see what I could learn about the attendees with the aim of being even more relevant.

I asked the organizer of the event if she would email all the attendees a very simple 2-3 point questionnaire to see if I could get to know the group and their expectations even better. All in the interest of being more relevant. The organizer wasn’t interested.

It is worthwhile to try to establish a conversation with attendees as early on as possible and as much as possible. In doing so your illustrations, your examples can be even more relevant. It lets the attendees know that yours is not a ‘canned’ presentation but something prepared just for them.

That is … if you can make the connection. I’ll keep trying. Today, however, was a fail.


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ByBill Belew

How the professional cruise ship speaker can become more engaging | 5 steps

Cruise Ship Speaker - Belew

Cruise Ship Speaker – Belew

Professional speakers on cruise ships or otherwise are wanting to be more engaging.

I am a regular church goer. Our preacher is young and for his age he is a pretty good preacher. One of the things he has not learned, imho, is how to engage. Oftentimes he seems to be speaking while the congregation is listening in. Instead of talking TO the congregation, he talks into the air … and they listen.

This is NOT engaging.

When the listeners, no matter the size of the crowd feel as if the speaker is talking to them, on their level, where they are at, that is engagement at its best.

How can a professional speaker be more engaging?

1. Go early. I like to go to my venue early and listen in, borderline eavesdrop, on conversations. This will let me know what people are talking about.

2. Be a bridge. I like to listen in on sessions or events that lead right up to my presentation and connect the speaker before me with my presentation when possible.

Related: Make Your Presentations More Riveting

3. Ask questions. I chat up attendees long before I go on, asking them why they are there, what they hope to learn, then tell them about my session and ask them what they would like to learn.

4. White board. When I have a chance, I ask attendees who come early what they hope to learn and I list their interests on a white board. Before I step down, I go back to the whiteboard to be sure I covered all desired topics.

5. Get down. Whenever possible, I get down off the stage and roam the aisle/s, to be on eye-level with the attendees.

6. Ask more questions. When the venue permits it, I like to leave time for my attendees to ask immediate questions AND answer them.

Did I forget something? How do you engage with your listeners?


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ByBill Belew

How the professional cruise ship speaker can become more riveting

More riveting … this is one of the skills that a group of National Speaker Association members came up with as a desirable trait that is needed for the on stage professional.

How do you become a more riveting speaker?

The answer lies in the story and the impact the message could have on the listeners.

I watched a Ted talk not long ago and though riveting might be a bit strong, I was thoroughly engaged with the speaker AND his topic which I had no interest in going in.

Related: How to Improve Storytelling Skills

He was talking about data mining and visually displaying the results.

From his accent you could tell that English was not his first language. But the presenter was totally in love with his topic and the slides/graphs he had behind him … which were not particularly great … but still really cool.

The topic was a yawner … can’t quite remember what it was. Population growth and wealth distribution I think.

But I remember the speaker loved his topic. You could hear it in his voice. He seldom looked up because his stats and how he presented them were more entrancing to him. Besides, nobody’s eyes were fixed on him, the listeners were wondering what was going to happen next … on the slides! = Riveting.

Riveting is being in love with your topic and keeping your listeners so engaged they can’t wait to see/hear what is next.

Watch the Ted talk and tell me if I am right or wrong.


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