Connect More, Preach Less

Truly effective speakers really connect with their audience rather than preaching to them.

Much of the feedback I get from audiences is that I am "authentic" and "genuine".

Is this an innate skill or one that can be learned?

I believe it is a learned skill. Beverley Cohen, a communications specialist makes some good points in a recent article Ease Up On the Preach.

Here is a summary of the key points she makes:

"Examine your text

1. Write your message for the ear rather than the eye. Remember your audience will be hearing what you have to say. They won't be reading it.

2. Use words that are easy for your audience to understand
Avoid technical jargon.

3. Keep your sentences short but descriptive.
Avoid statements that sound like edicts: You should…You must…

4. Include your audience with statements like, "As you already know…" "I'm sure you've discovered…."

5. Sprinkle your message with humor.
Tell stories and anecdotes in third person. " I have a friend"… My father always told me…"

Examine your style

1. Don't read your text, no matter how good you think it is. You can't maintain a conversational tone or have good eye contact if your head is down and you are reading.

2. Speak to your audience not at them

3. Smile

4. Breathe naturally

5. Use hand gestures that are inclusive

6. Don't point. Use an open hand when gesturing to the audience

7. Vary your volume and rate to keep interest and add intrigue

8. Move away from the lectern

9. View your audience as valued friends

10. View your message as one to be shared"

Source: Power Presentations Newsletter, November 2004