Speak Easy — Part 3

Amy Thomasson
March 25, 2021

Affinity Strategies is pleased to share the latest blog in our three-part public speaking series. While part one addressed overcoming public speaking fears, and part two covered how to personalize your message and delivery style for your audience, our final speaker series blog will leave you with a few quick tips to recognize and respond to audience feedback.

Here are our expert tips:

Pay attention to nonverbal cues.
“I pay attention to facial expressions: A confused look translates to the need to adjust my explanation. The body language of your audience may be an indication of boredom. This is a great opportunity to get the audience engaged and/or add humor to presentation. Sometimes, I will call myself out and say, ‘I’m not capturing your attention,’ which serves as a cue to reengage. Audience engagement is key,” says Jacqualine Price Osafo, VP of Membership, American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA).

Ask questions before the presentation.
“If I don’t know who is going to be in the room before I arrive, I often begin my talk by asking a few questions about the audience or their organizations. If there is a large percentage of attendees from a particular segment or category, I will tweak my presentation points if possible,” says Scott Oser, President, Scott Oser Associates.

Wrap up with more questions and answers.
Jon Kinsella, Director of Digital Marketing, Association Headquarters, “Audience feedback and Q&As are always encouraged because they provide insight into what topics I need to dive deeper on and what isn’t working. They also provide me with ideas for future topics and spin-off presentations, which helps me constantly alter and enhance my offerings.”

Although speaking up in the form of a speech or presentation may not be your preferred work or volunteer assignment, with practice and these tips, you can make the experience more pleasant and effective.

If all else fails, I’ll leave you with my personal mantra whenever my pre-speech discomfort is setting in: “This is what growth feels like.”