The audience was small. The senator who was presenting before me walked out into the audience, pulled out a small pad of paper, and asked the physicians in the audience what questions they had for him. He called it “town meeting style.”
He wanted to make sure he covered exactly what they were interested in. Though questions started slowly, they came out one-by-one. The senator meticulously wrote down every question. It took a little time, and you could tell that some in the audience wanted him to write more quickly. His confidence showed through in his comfort with his technique. We could all tell he was going to do it his way at his pace. He handled the question of each of the 19 people in the audience.
Though some in the audience may have felt anxious with how long it was taking to write out every question, how do you think the person who asked the question felt? I’m guessing they were OK with the time he took writing down their question in its entirety. It was about them in that moment. Though the pace seemed slow, he had them leaning in. Each person who had not yet been called on was searching for a question they could ask. They were next. Even if they did not actually have one, they found one!
The senator then proceeded to use the questions from the audience as the structure of his presentation. Though I do not agree with this method as the entire speech structure, it worked for him. Though it may not have been a dynamic presentation, he did have everyone’s attention. Why? Because he listened to each person in the room. If you listen to them, they will likely listen to you. There is no better way that I can think of to prove you are listening than to write down your audience’s response. They want to be heard.
When we start off most of our Champ Camps (Boot Camps for speakers), we ask attendees what they want to walk away with. We use flip chart paper and scribe what they say. People like to be heard and get their intended outcome. We, as the event leaders, want that too. Without asking, how would we know? Writing down their interests allows us as seminar leaders to adjust our plan and give more energy and focus to a specific topic on which some attendees want more detail. It works.
During the Champ Camp, we post the flip chart paper on the wall as a reminder to leaders to expand on those topic areas. At the end of the Champ Camp, it also serves as a perfect “recap” tool. We remind people what we said about each topic and literally check each topic off as we mention it. This shows that we care and that we listen to the people investing their time and money to be with us. I also do this with some of my corporate clients as well. It works.
Your audience wants to be heard. You want to deliver value, but make sure you are delivering what they want. I use this format in more of my trainings than in my speeches, but it can be used in both. Your audience has thoughts and desires about what they want from you. Next time, will you write them down?
If you have any experiences you can share, questions or ideas about this topic, please post them below. Read what others post, as well!
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