How do you make an audience fall in love with you as a speaker and want to give you a standing ovation?
The short answer is by quickly creating an environment for audiences to connect with you and your message.
While I support the idea that “other people’s opinions of us are not our business” as a way to minimize people pleasing and self-judgment, when it comes to speaking, other people’s opinions absolutely need to be considered (before they can be released) if our goal is to move people to take action on our important ideas.
Following my three recommendations below will help you to let go of contorting yourself to perform like a show pony when you speak, for you will have clear action steps to guide the beginning of your presentations. This will empower you to shift from obsessively trying to please your audiences to effectively serving them.
Here are three tips to help you get that standing ovation:
Tip #1: Create your dream speaker bio for the event host.
You likely know that people form their opinions of us in less than 30 seconds.
When it comes to speaking, presentations don’t begin when we step on stage. They begin the moment an event host reads our speaker bio.
In order to create credibility without having to stack a speaking introduction with a laundry list of achievements, let an event host sing (or, at the very least, speak) your praises by mentioning your most significant and relevant experiences.
To make that speaker bio dazzle, you can adjust it from the longer bio you have on your speaker one-sheet or use in your speaking pitches by pruning long lists and shifting the voice to make it more conversational.
Showing speakers how to play nicely with the sensation that comes up when they speak is Alexia’s jam. A Las Vegas-based keynote speaker and speaking coach, her clients present to Fortune 500 companies, professional associations, industry events, and they contribute to prestigious media. Hello, Oprah Winfrey Network!
Claim expertise with definitive statements like Las Vegas-based keynote speaker, Alexia Vernon, is the go-to speaking coach for coaches, consultants, and experts who want to use transformational speaking to grow their businesses and their thought leadership.
You can also use your bio as an opportunity to infuse contextually appropriate humor.
Having been a hot mess as a speaker more years than she cares to admit, Alexia knows how to call entrepreneurs and leaders on their visibility B.S. so they can spend more time serving than self-loathing.
Speaking coaches and speaking experts will often advise including a final line in a speaker bio like, “Please stand up, clap your hands, and join me in welcoming Alexia Vernon to the stage.”
I don’t recommend this. You can call me old school, but I prefer to garner my standing ovations as a speaker because I’ve earned them rather than because I’ve cleverly asked for them.
Tip #2: Get a laugh, stat.
One way to put yourself on track for a standing ovation as a speaker is to elicit a laugh (or, better yet, a series of laughs) from your audience within your first 30-seconds on stage – whether or not you made folks laugh in your speaker bio (which I hope you did.)
If you are a comedian, you can do this through self-deprecation.
You’re looking at Miss Junior America. (Pause.) 1999. (Pause again.) Yes, that’s when Alanis Morissette was the ideal for beauty.
If you are not a comedic speaker, however, instead flex your humor muscles by poking fun at something relevant for your audience that doesn’t undermine your credibility.
My pathway to speaking with moxie had more delays than an American Airlines flight.
(While I don’t typically recommend going partisan or insulting brands, over the last six months American Airlines has been such a pain in my you know what that I’m willing to make them the butt of a joke. #reclaimingmypower)
When you get your audience to laugh with you, you make it easier for them to connect emotionally with themselves, with your content, and of course with you, as a speaker and thought leader, throughout the rest of your presentation.
And when you make yourself relatable and accessible, it will help you later on in your presentation to inspire your audience’s commitment to your call to action.
Tip #3: Show your audience you are relevant to them.
Whether your audience will easily relate to your personal stories or you feel like you are a sales person trying to sell sheepskin to a bunch of shepherds, the key to making your material come alive for people is thinking about their pain points, personal motivators, and likely objections. Speak directly to them as early in your presentation as possible. And, of course, keep doing so as you continue on.
To paraphrase what I say when addressing groups of senior leaders after sharing my postpartum depression story…
Now, you may not have gone through childbirth. And, whether or not you are a parent, or ever intend to be a parent (and please know I respect you even if you can’t remember the last time you were in the same zip code as a kiddo you knew), I suspect you’ve had moments where the rest of the world thought you were rocking and rolling. And then, the universe threw you a ten-pound crap sandwich you had to figure out how to swallow – without those who look to you for leadership smelling something foul. Amiright?
You better believe when I speak like this people sit up, lean in, and usually nod their heads.
Our audiences don’t have time (and they sure don’t have the attention span) for us to tip-toe around difficult and important truths.
From the moment an audience gives you the privilege of their time, make everything you share relevant to their lives – even if (especially if) the examples you give stretch those listening out of familiar references and comfortable boxes.
That’s your pathway to credibility, likeability, trust, commitment, and a (potential) standing ovation as a speaker.