Sure, You're Interesting, But What About Them?

Beth Noymer Levine will serve as a presenter and facilitator for the interactive NLC University Seminar, "It's Not All About You: How to be an Audience Centric Speaker" at the Congress of Cities and Exposition on November 19th in Austin, Texas.

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Location, location, location is the mantra of real estate professionals. Audience, audience, audience is my mantra.

When it comes to communicating, it’s all about them, your audience. Whether or not you’re an effective speaker or presenter is in the eyes of the beholder – your audience. You are in front of an audience, whether one or 100, for a reason; you’re either trying to build consensus, share ideas, get input, make a decision, persuade, motivate or even impress them. What kind of an experience are you giving them? What will they take away? How will you be effective with them?

Interestingly enough, many people prepare for presentations or for leading meetings in ways that work for them, not their audience. Sure, they think about who will be in the room, but the trick is in thinking more deeply about where the audience’s hot buttons are, how you can have an impact on them, and what you need them to remember. Audience preferences and tendencies may at times seem like a mystery, but you don’t have to look too far to know what some of them are – after all, you are a frequent audience member, aren’t you?

Some audience preferences and tendencies have been studied and documented. For my upcoming book, I have been digging into attention spans – how they work and how long they last. After all, if we’re talking to people, we want to make sure we’re grabbing and holding onto their attention. One of the more interesting books I took a look at was “Brain Rules” by Dr. John Medina. Medina distills his research down to 12 “brain rules” and two of them caught my eye.

The first was that people don’t pay attention to boring things. We pay attention to things like emotions and threats. Hmmm, that’s probably why storytelling is so effective and also why being able to identify your audience’s “pain” works well to grab their attention!

The second was that people need repetition to remember. People need to be exposed and re-exposed to material you want them to retain. This is not at all surprising to those of us who can remember almost every advertising jingle from our childhood!

During my seminar program, “It's Not All About You: How to Be an Audience-Centric Speaker,” at the 2014 Congress of Cities, we will dive into audience-centricity and how to structure and organize your communications in a way that is effective for audiences yet accomplishes your goals at the same time. I look forward to seeing you in Austin!