How to connect with your audience

When it comes to connecting with people, some of the tricks in the book are:

Call or refer to each person by name

Why use the pronoun when noun is known? Replace the impersonal application of “you,” “he” or “she” with actual names. That’s the whole reason why name-tags and name-tents were invented.

Employ recapitulating techniques

Consistently assess the levels of comprehension and cohesion. For instance, ask the audience to create hashtags or one-liners of potential take-home messages. Don’t wait until the end to evaluate your success. Evaluate your progress from the word “go!”

Share “your time”

When you are allotted ten minutes, don’t monopolize it. Don’t whizz through it, keen to cover everything, while at the same time complaining how unfairly brief the duration is. Technically it’s their time, not the speaker’s. If they did not show up, there would be no speaking. As the author Margaret Millar observed, “Most conversations are simply monologues delivered in the presence of a witness.” Get them on board. give them time to internalise and respond.

Facilitate some chores

Get the audience involved. Listen to their experiences, ask them to speak to each other, to write a list, draw, move, stand, lead a dance/game … the list goes on

Exude energy

If you are not charged, how can you charge the room? Passion is contagious.

Use endearing terms to refer to the audience, where appropriate

It shows that you are not a stranger. Speakers use terms such as “friends,” “good people” and even “my brothers and sisters” to enjoin themselves to their audience. Give it a spin

Tell moving or shocking stories

Have you noticed how much people love stories? We make a beeline for latest news headlines as soon as we wake up in the morning, we retell a memorable joke and that was well enjoyed, we like/tweet/share a juicy narrative …It’s just human nature. Leverage it. It makes your the interaction memorable.

“I heard about this politician who, while not in Rio, ...”

See, you are already curious, if not fully hooked!

Evoke people’s emotions by punctuating your presentation with relevant anecdotes, especially those that provoke people to jump in and offer their two cents on the issue.


By Caroline Nderitu, Public Speaking Consultant


Bonus …Here’s a popular ice-breaker:

A Kenyan walks into a bar and orders three beers. The bartender brings him the three beers, and the man proceeds to alternately sip one, then the other, then the third, until they're gone. Then leaves. The next week, he orders three beers and the bartender says, "Boss, to keep them chilled, why don’t you can start with one, and I'll bring you a fresh one as soon as you're low." The man says, "You don't understand. I have two brothers, one in USA and one in the UK. We made a vow to each other that every Saturday night, we'd still drink together. So right now, my brothers are having three beers, too, and we're drinking together." The bartender thinks it's a wonderful tradition, and every week he sets up the guy's three beers. Then one week, the man comes in and orders only two beers. The bartender serves and says sadly, "I am so sorry for your loss." The man replies, "Oh, my brothers are both alive and well. It’s me, I’ve quit drinking."