5 Ways to Connect to Your Audience

At the beginning of every semester, I ask my students to think about speakers they connect to. They might be teachers, coaches, politicians, celebrities, or friends—famous people or ordinary ones.

“What do these speakers do to make you want to listen?” I ask.

Much to my dismay as a public speaking teacher, no one tells me that these speakers use clear transition statements or cite their sources well.

“They’re passionate.”  “They’re confident.”  “They’re not boring.”

It’s an easy question for students to answer. “Great!” I say. “But how do you know they’re passionate? What do they do that makes them seem confident? How do they avoid being boring?”

Silence.

These questions aren’t quite as simple. Sometimes, the thing that makes a great speaker great isn’t eloquent writing, a well-designed visual aid, or a provocative thesis statement. (Even though that would make my job a lot easier.) Sometimes, the thing that makes a great speaker great is something more invisible: chemistry. Or as we like to talk about it: connection.

Read the rest of the post on the Good Sophist website.

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