More than one great speaker has fallen flat because they didn’t modify their speaking style to match their large audience size. Here are 10 points you should consider when giving talks to large audiences.
Large audience talks take special preparation. You want your entire audience to feel you touched them individually, even with 500 or more present. You might not be able to apply all 10 guidelines but just knowing them will help you prepare.
1. Know Your Audience.
First and foremost, know your audience. What do they expect to hear? What are their special interests? What are the unique or key language terms in their profession? What do they read? Is your message centered on delivering a listener-centered message?
Don’t complicate the message. Use Power Point, pictures, examples, displays, models. Keep it simple and interesting. Keep the factoids to a MINIMUM. Have a strong opening sentence and a strong closing sentence.
3. Use stories.
Use stories to keep it personal. Use stories they can relate to. If it’s a technical topic, use technical stories. If it’s a social topic, use social stories, etc. Connect by examples and stories they would be used to telling in their field. When you move their heart, you’ll move their head. Quote their guru’s and visionaries.
4. Use a little humor.
Don’t overdo the comedy routine. Entertain and educate. Use humor more as a wakeup call for your audience.
Know your slides. Don’t read from your notes. Know how to use the equipment you’ll be using in your presentation. I know I am ready when I can give my presentation as well backwards as forward.
6. Use quality pictures or videos in your power point slides.
Don’t skimp on using good pictures. Don’t use cheap icons. Remember that people respond to color, shape, size, and ‘punch’. Punch is the wow factor. Remember to keep your titles large, simple, and clear so everyone can read them.
7. Talk one on one.
Even though it’s a large group you are talking with, still you pick out one person at a time to address as you are talking. As you scan the room you always come back to looking someone in the eye as you speak.
8. Be the SME.
Be the Subject Matter Expert. Show your comprehension by engaging your audience with the topic. I like to walk away from the podium, or not use a podium at all, and stand in the middle of the stage before the group.
9. Be dynamic by being real.
Speak as you would normally speak if you were very interested in the topic. What would your pace be then? How would you gesture then? Don’t be too long on any given slide. How long should you be on a given slide? Try to keep your pace per slide between 10 seconds to 1 minute. If it is going to be longer than that, add another slide. Repeat anything that your audience says so everyone can hear what was said. Questions or statements that are not repeated get lost on some people. Have a microphone for your audience to use if they have questions.
10. Stay around after your talk ends.
When your talk ends, stay around up front by the stage to field further questions and socialize. If you have a product table in the back of the room, invite others come up and say hello, whether or not they purchase a product from you.
Have fun with your talk. You’ll be spectacular by just being yourself; prepared about your topic, happy to be there, enthusiastic to have the chance to share your message.