We approach the platform; take a breath and pray that the Lord will be honored with our words.
We speak, praying to make a connection with the audience.
Things are going along perfectly and then it happens…
We mispronounce a word, lose our train of thought, forget that important scripture verse, and maybe even walk off the end of the stage.
Yes friends I’ve experienced every one of these things while speaking, yet the Lord still opened the door to make a connection with the audience.
While I don’t recommend you walk off the end of the stage just to make a connection there is an important lesson here.
When speaking, perfection does not guarantee connection. However sincerity, transparency and authenticity create a real opportunity to connect with your audience.
This connection is important if the audience is to receive God’s message, accept His invitation and ultimately change their lives.
You may be the most eloquent and polished speaker, but if your audience doesn’t connect to you and your message, the prospect of them remembering or implementing your message is small.
Here are a few practical steps to help you make a connection:
1. Be prepared – Study and Pray, pray, pray.
Design an outline to use when speaking instead of using detailed notes.
Generate your PowerPoint or handouts.
Create a memorable opening by posing a question or stating an interesting fact.
Fashion a “call to action” and use this to close your talk.
2. Keep it simple – Having a simple message encourages your audience to remain engaged. A complicated or complex message will frustrate and confuse your audience and they will be less likely to make that connection.
3. Let them know you’re human – Telling personal stories will build trust and a connection. Your stories will create a sense of shared values, motivation and inspiration.
4. Be yourself – Let your personality shine through. You are a precious, unique creation and God has called you to share that.
5. “Practice makes progress” – Your goal is connection, not perfection. By practicing and rehearsing you will gain confidence and your presentation will flow in a natural and relaxed manner.
Practicing will allow your personality to shine through.
6. Be organized – Having everything you need and packing your bags hours prior to your event will foster a calm and composed spirit.
7. Minimize potential distractions – Technology is a wonderful tool when it works, it can be a major distraction when it doesn’t. Check with the audio/visual staff to be certain your power point or other technical needs are working properly prior to beginning your talk. Ask someone familiar with the equipment to be responsible for running the equipment during your talk. Fumbling with an unfamiliar remote while speaking will be a distraction for you and your audience.
8. Take a breath – One deep breath before taking the platform will calm your beating heart and focus your mind on the real “star” of your message – Jesus.
9. Energy and enthusiasm – If you’re not energetic and enthusiastic about your topic, your audience won’t be either. Varying your voice, inflection, range, volume and speed are valuable when highlighting important points and to animate your anecdotes.
10. Be available– Before and after your talk if possible. This connection will boost your message’s effectiveness and will help cement your audience connection.
One word of encouragement here. Do your best to focus on each individual speaking to you. The swirl of activity around you can be distracting, but you want each individual to feel valued and respected.
11. Sign up– If you have an e-newsletter; invite your audience to sign up for that. This is another way of continuing your connection.
This is by no means an exhaustive list; perhaps you can share some of your best tips with everyone.