Engaging your audience is the primary challenge for any presenter, on stage, on screen, and on air. (Keep reading to find out about a new tool I have created that will help you)
The good news is that we humans are hardwired to connect with each other so as long as your audience is captive, they are pretty much ready to connect with you from the start. Your job as presenter is to keep their attention.
Choosing content that is relevant to your audience is important.
Making your content relevant to your audience is essential.
You are always trying to create moments of connection. One way to do that is to get topical. Get in your audience’s “zeitgeist”. If you can, understand where their head is at, from what is going on for them culturally. When you reference it in your content, it will go a long way to keep them engaged.
Ever noticed how when someone starts talking about Christmas in May, it jars doesn’t it?
But when the first Christmas cups appear in Starbucks in November time, you know Christmas is on the way and you can get excited about it!
This is how being topical can help you be relevant.
Basic topicality is acknowledging the day, is it a Monday vibe or a Friday vibe? Then you can think about whether you are in the midst of their holidays like Easter, Valentines Day or Christmas. Then there are specifics in the news or entertainment world.
I recently did a workshop for some lawyers right at the deadline of the new GDPR proceedures. I used the opportunity to make jokes around the amount of emails we were all getting, and the amount of work they were having to do for their clients. It was an easy win, and the response from the participants was unprecedented.
If you are presenting regularly on air, on social media or on stage, then you start to get good at knowing what your audiences will like. You get good at finding your “go to” websites (BBC News / TMZ / BuzzFeed etc.) to inspire your content ideas.
As a content creator I often like to get ahead with my web content, so it’s good to be able to plan ahead the topicality.
To help you with this I have pulled together a Content Calendar for reference. I will share this information with you in my weekly newsletter (sign up here).
Use the information as you wish, as long as your audience recognises it.
Why has everyone suddenly gone podcast mad? Business leaders, thought leaders, radio presenters, tv stars are all getting on the audio train lately. Feeling like you might be too late to start yours? Don’t.
Here’s why you should consider it:
1. Podcasts are really easy (and cheap) to make
Not only is the equipment super cheap, it’s easier to edit out mistakes, and you don’t have to put your make up on or do your hair before you press record. Podcast wear = whatever your think is appropriate, and that may be your pyjamas.
And as a quick overview:
You need 3 pieces of equipment for podcasting: 1) a microphone 2) an audio recorder 3) an audio editor
If you work in radio or media production, you probably have access to these already, but all can be found for under £100 each. You can even record you speaking on applications like zoom.us (free) and edit on something like iMovie. Plus that phone in the palm of your hand has a load of audio recording/editing capacity.
Then you need a host to put the audio on to, check audioboom, libsyn, soundcloud, Acast
And then you need a platform to broadcast from: Apple Podcasts, Acast, podbean (see point 3)
2. You’ll Find Your Voice
When you are working on behalf of a company, you have to adhere to brand image, editorial policies and formats. This can get in the way of you finding your true voice and being able to express what you care about.
With a podcast you really get the opportunity to put your passions and interests first. Give people the chance to get to know you and your values. It feeds your other work as well by encouraging you to form stories and communicate succinctly. If you do a weekly podcast, it will improve your day to day communication.
3. Apple Have Upped Their Game
It’s been a long time coming but Apple are about to release analytics to podcasters. The newly titled “Apple Podcasts” is the main platform for podcast listening and up until now, they’ve kept the analytics hidden from podcast creators. If you’re a creator, you’re going to be able to see just how people listen to your audio, whether they listen to the end, skip bits or tune out.
This data means that we can only start to improve, and if you are starting now, it gives you an efficient feedback loopmaking it efficient for you to improve.
4. You’ll Reach Your Audience & Create A Meaningful Connection
It’s fine to treat your audience to your vlog, but if you want to get content right through into the hearts and minds of your audience, listening is where it’s at.
Well produced audio has a habit of seeping in to the brain in a way that visual can’t. Let’s face it, your listeners are busy people, they can’t stop to watch you all the time they have things to do. But they can listen to you while they have things to do.
I have been working in radio for the last 20 years and have helped people produce podcasts, consutled and done a lot of listening. It’s time for me to start too, watch this space.
“I’m not funny…” is the number one reason I hear for people trying to avoid standing in front of people and speaking. “I mean I can be funny when I’m with my friends, but I’m not funny on stage…”
There is no doubt about it, being funny is a great tool to connect with people and create a light uplifting enjoyable talk. But… the good news is you don’t have to “be funny”, to “be funny” for your audience.
You see, being funny is never where you start from. Being honest, telling your stories and creating a connection is where you start from. this is the key to engaging an audience. If it’s there, funny comes later.
Interestingly when I coached four of the presenters for the Next Radio Conference in September, only ONE of them stood out as being naturally funny, but ALL FOUR presentations had people laughing.
By using me as a coach for their talks, my clients are able to find the funny lines if they exist. More often than not the jokes appear like bubbles rising to the top once the speech is discussed, designed, written and rehearsed. I’m gonna stick my neck out and say: 90% of making someone laugh is in the delivery of a line. And the reaction of laughter, doesn’t come because you told a joke, it’s a reaction of surprise and familiarity in a story you told.
So rest assured, the pressure of being funny is felt by everyone, being funny isn’t the key to creating an engaging talk, and you will only know if there is funny in your talk once you’ve written it. Use a trusted friend, associate or coach to help you hear what it is you are trying to say, and if the funny stands out they’ll be able to find it for you.
I’ve been saying “Show Don’t Tell” in a lot of my sessions recently. It’s one of the fundamentals in “performing” your content and drawing in your listener.
The ideology I use is taught in novel writing. The lesson is that you give the reader the opportunity to add their imagination to the story. Instead of the author writing “She laughed nervously” – which tells the reader exactly what is going on, the ‘Show Don’t Tell’ version is “Her cheeks flushed as she laughed”.
A good author then allows you, as the reader, the space to put your thoughts and pictures into the book, to read betwen the lines, meaning you’re able to engage with the content at a personal level.
How then does this translate to presenting?
Often it’s how you go about explaining your content.
Imagine you are using an audio clip from an interview. You set it up by giving it context…
“Tom Odell was in yesterday and we asked him what he thought of the Euros…. Here’s what he said” <Play Clip>
At a basic level, you don’t need the “here’s what he said”. It is fine to say:
“Tom Odell was in yesterday and we asked him what he thought of the Euros…<play clip>”
One step further might get you to a more interesting place
“Up next is the new song from Tom Odell – He’s a big football fan, how’s he feeling about the Euros? <PAUSE FOR A BEAT> <Play clip>”
In an “On Stage” context you can also think about how you are using your slides to show what you are talking about rather than telling your audience what you are saying. You and I both know we shouldn’t write up bullet points on the powerpoint word for word, but when we get to it it’s difficult to find images. We’ve all done it: the bullet points find their way back in. Unfortunately it is a sure fire way to get your audience to glaze over.
Of all examples of the “Show Don’t Tell” technique in presenting content, my favourite has to be the first 60 seconds of this.