17 May 2018

Four questions people ask every time you speak

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You step up to speak. You’ve got an important message to share. You need people to get this. You’ve spent days, maybe even weeks preparing for this.

I could list a hundred thoughts that are likely running through your head as you walk onto the stage:

Don’t stuff this up
I hope this makes sense
I hope I’ve prepared enough
What if people laugh at me?
What’s my opening line?
How did I get roped into doing this?

But have you ever wondered what’s going through the mind of your audience? What’s ticking around in their brain as they sit in silence staring back at you. 

I’m not a mind reader, but as someone who has sat through countless presentations and conferences I can give you four big questions I ask every time I hear someone speak. If you are a leader or communicator that wants to better connect with your audience, they are four questions worth considering.

Question #1 - Do You Believe This?

This question is about energy.

When you speak, people want to know that you stand by your words. I can’t believe this if you don’t. There is something contagious about the passion and energy a person exudes when they are convinced of their content and message. It is also glaringly obvious when a person is delivering a message they do not personally believe themselves.

Build Conviction. Get passionate about your message. Passion is not just seen in volume, it isn’t just about being loud. It is seen in value. If you want to become passionate about what you do, invest the time and effort to understand deeply why your message and content is valuable to you and to those you are sharing it with. 

Question #2 - Do I Believe You? 

This question is about authenticity

An audience would rather engage with someone who is raw and authentic over a someone who is polished and fake. An audience will forgive you for tripping over a few words but they won’t forgive someone they perceive as fake. Trust is the foundation for connecting your message.

Avoid Comparison. Ultimately people want to connect with you but they can’t do that if you’re trying to be somebody else. The best pathway to authenticity is being comfortable in your own skin. Find how you communicate most naturally, own it, then keep growing.  

Question #3 - Do You Care About Me? 

This question is about generosity

Is your content seeking or serving? Are you sharing this information because you believe it will serve and benefit those who are listening. Or are you sharing this information with the sole intent of seeking something from them? As the popular saying goes “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”. 

Deliver Value. Whether it is a sales pitch, department update or change process, focus on adding value first, before asking for anything in return. Put simply, give more than you take.

Question #4 - Do You Understand Me?

This question is about empathy

People want to know that you’ve done the work to understand them. It means answering the “what’s in it for me” question before you get in the room. Empathy has been described as the ability to sit in someone’s shoes and see things from their perspective. It is the ability to find the connection between the content or message you deliver and the challenges people face. 

Show Understanding. Show people you have done the work required to know how your message or big idea is relevant to the key challenge or problems they face. 

Still interested? Stay tuned for information on the upcoming Corporate Communications Leadership Forum @ Akolade Aust 

Written by Shane Hatton, Founder of Lead the Room

I've spent the last 12 years working in organisations across the government, retail, creative and not-for-profit sectors so my approach blends my experience in business, marketing and counselling. I'm a creative at heart and so you can be sure that a journey with me will be along the road less travelled.

Follow me on LinkedIn @ Shane Hatton

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