As a speaker, you want your audience to understand and believe your content. And you want to be relaxed, confident, and persuasive while you're speaking.
Here's a strategy that will deliver both. Focus on your audience all through the process. At every step -- research, big idea, script, rehearsal, and delivery -- think audience, audience, audience.
Step #1: To develop audience-friendly content, ask yourself these questions. “What does this audience want and/or need to hear from me? What can I say that will resonate with them? During my speech -- in that room, on that day -- what's the biggest audience need I can satisfy?”
Let's say you're introducing a new product. Remember, customers aren’t buying your product. They're buying the benefits it produces for them. That's your starting point. Talk about what customers want and need -- and what benefits your product gives them.
You and your people may want to show off new features and advanced thinking. Soft-pedal this urge. Your audience really doesn't care about what's under the hood. An extended tutorial on "how it works" is about as interesting as what you did on your summer vacation. If you want to score some competitive points, OK, give them a brief peek at your product's wow factor.
But don't build your whole pitch around what you've done. Instead, focus on what you can do for customers.
Step #2: Focus on your audience while you're speaking. When you come right down to it, there is no group. You are speaking to each individual.
Drop the "I'm giving a speech" voice, persona, and demeanor. Instead, have a conversation. Pick out a few people in various parts of the room and talk right to each of them -- as you would in one-on-one conversation.
When you stop focusing on yourself, you free up your attention to concentrate on the audience. Audiences undergo a magical transformation when they see the speaker's attention shift from self to audience. They relax. They listen. They open up to your ideas. The audience knows you're there for them, not for yourself. Huge difference in attitude, receptivity, and audience buy in.
Bottom line: For sure-fire content, a more relaxed speaking experience, and better audience acceptance, put your audience first in all you do.