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3 tips to turn your audience into a community

Ginger Leadership Communications

Within the public speaking realm, we talk a lot about audiences. As a matter of fact it’s ALL about the audience. What is my ideal audience? How do I write for my audience? How do you find your audience? Where is the best place to stand so that my audience can hear me? Audience, audience, audience… yadda yadda yadda.

The technical definition of an audiences is that they are passive. Consumers of information, a one way street, where you speak and they listen. You provide and they consume. Inspiring speaking tells us that you should view those listening to you not as an audience but more of a community. A community is full of engagers, those who not only listen but actively participate.

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you.”

~ Dale Carnegie

Don’t give a speech.

Wait what? Don’t give a speech? Um… aren’t you supposed to teach us exactly that Ms. Ginger? Ginger Public SPEAKING?  Instead of fostering connections, a typical speech is all about pushing content out through our vocal cords at an impressive rate.

The best way to turn your audience into a community is by having a CONVERSATION. Talk to those listening the way you’d talk to one or two other people you care about. You will need to raise your volume and energy level, and you’ll want to plan out what you say.

  • Speak the way you naturally do. Use ‘you’ ‘I’ ‘we’.
  • Don’t try to impress people by sounding smart. Make THEM feel smart by explaining yourself simply and clearly. If you must use technical terms, explain them immediately.
  • Your audience members are constantly giving you feedback – by their posture, body language, and eye contact. So pay attention to the signals they’re giving and respond.
  • It’s more about communication than regurgitating information. Talk to people… not AT people.

Empathy! Empathy! Empathy! 

Many public speakers assume they already know what others want to hear (and some even don’t even think about it at all). How can you build a community if you already think you know what others should hear?

It might go a little something like this:

Yikes, I’ve got a presentation to give. Terrifying! Ok… where are all my facts and figures and details and bits of information? How can I make sure they realise I know a lot about this subject? How can I make sure I don’t look stupid? How can I make sure they don’t poke holes in my knowledge? Where’s that encyclopedia?

Whoah there, Miss Facts-A-Million, did you ask yourself what your audience might actually want?

Um, well, no…

And if you did, would they want buckets of information, or something else?

Like what?

Like a speaker they can connect with?

Ah. If we just needed to reel off facts as a speaker, then why would we need speeches in the first place? You could just direct people to whatever books to read and be done with it. Right? Right. Empathy is all about human connection. By building empathy, you can connect more to your audience and help them to take in more of what you say. This is the key to building a community. Read more on how to inspire through empathy here.

SERVANT Speaking 

Normal public speaking can focus more on taking from an audience:

  • I need them to listen to me;
  • I need them to look interested in what I’m saying;
  • I need them to laugh at my jokes;
  • I need them to affirm my expertise;
  • I need them to know how good I am.

Servant speaking is all about building a community:

  • I have something important to give – I’m not only ‘taking’ Instead of just ‘getting through’ my material,
  • I want to give my community what they most need to hear.
  • I believe that my message will bring benefit to those listening.
  • I want the people listening to me to feel a part OF not apart FROM. 

This is the way to build a community, to have active engagers that will come back again and again. A community that will also share YOUR message, because as a result of your inspiring speaking they too believe. You can see it everywhere, this community sharing. From reshared quotes on the internet from Brené Brown, to utilizing quotes from famous speakers in blog posts and articles. An audience listens, a community reshares.

More information on how to turn an audience into a community? 

You betcha! If you’re eager to become a more inspiring speaker, Ginger has a multitude of courses just right for you! From freebies to e-courses, books to workshops, jump in to Ginger. Click here for a full list of Ginger courses and resources.

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