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Clients I work with often get intimidated by larger audiences. Sometimes it’s like 7 people in the room is ok, but if the 8th person walks in, you can’t handle it. Whatever a ‘big’ audience is for you, how do you get confident to speak in front of them? Let’s investigate exactly how to speak to a group of more than 7 people without crumbling...
If you find ‘your message’ – the thing that you want to stand behind, you will be able to speak to any number of people. This can be difficult because we feel like we’re boasting, or taking the limelight. But it’s not like that; it’s really your message that’s taking the limelight and you’re a conduit for it. If you shy away from the limelight, you’re reducing the chance of your message being heard.
So to speak to a larger audience, get certain about what you stand for. And stand for it. Be unapologetic. Say to yourself and then to your audience “I have a message. THIS is what I would like to give and this is what I’d like you to do differently as a result of what I’m saying.” Shift the emphasis away from “What do you think” and towards “This is what I want you to think.”
Of course you will still be connecting with and empathising with your audience – that’s what makes great public speaking. But being willing to stand for something will help you cope with that larger audience.
Stand your ground and make your audience come to you. You say to your audience “You come to me”. You’re one speaker communicating to a whole load of people. It doesn’t make sense for you to go them, they must come to you. This is the mindset you must bring to the table when speaking to a larger audience.
You’ll need more energy to engage a big group of people for some time. Think of it as the difference between television acting and on stage acting. TV acting, or with a small group of people, loud and dramatic expressions may seem out of place. Conversely getting up on stage and speaking in a very calm fashion or very small fashion it might not be as engaging to your audience. Dividing your content into key chunks can help hold the attention span of your large audience. In a larger group people can zone in and zone out at any given moment. It’s much easier for those in the audience to talk to those seated next to them or check their smart phones and then come back to your speech.
Remember – speaking to a large audience is an opportunity to spread your message further and to have a greater impact as a speaker. Don’t be shy and go hunt out those large audiences!
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