Audience… Friend or foe?

This series finale provides the single most effective strategy to boost your speaking confidence and enhance your overall delivery!

Presentation Dynamic Fallacy

The keystone strategy and hack to becoming more comfortable when you’re presenting is to change how you perceive the audience, your mindset. As humans, we are programmed to view an audience as our enemy. A sort of “them versus me” dynamic develops in our minds. We think they may criticize our presentation every chance they get. We believe they will try to trip us up with a question or disrupt us unexpectedly and throw us off. I envision many of you reading this and nodding while realizing that this belief is faulty. You are correct.

The truth of the matter is that your audience is not your enemy; they are your teammates. You are all in the same boat, you’re just the captain. The dynamic is actually “presenter and audience versus competitors/past performance/future/etc.” They are there to learn from us and to move forward with their newly received knowledge. In fact, they’re there to help you as well, and keep in mind that most people know what it’s like to be in your shoes and are naturally sympathetic.

Now that we’ve established the reality of the audience’s role, we can act accordingly. We must prepare as if we are helping the audience. You are helping them to understand information and to accomplish their tasks or navigate their situations more effectively. Even when you are persuading them via your presentation, you’re fundamentally helping them to support you. Any way you look at it, you are helping the audience. This is the optimal mindset for a presenter to adopt heading into their presentation.

Helpful Analogy

Imagine yourself walking along the sidewalk of a busy street. You see an elderly person, crawling on the ground struggling to stand up, using their cane as a support as they strain to erect themselves. What would you do? What is your first inclination?

Most likely, your instinct would be to reach out and help. Think about that for one moment. You would not likely be concerned with how many people are watching you, or their evaluation of you. You really wouldn’t even consider what the elderly person is thinking of you. You would be focused on helping them. When you are genuinely trying to help someone, you are not nervous. Therefore, to curb your nerves, shift your focus to helping your audience understand your information.

For best results, consider approaching your professional presentation in this way. In all of my experience and research as a Communication Specialist, I have yet to see this strategy fail to improve a presentation.