Speak to an Audience of One

Speak to an Audience of One

Imagine how you might feel when you’re sitting in an audience listening to a speaker and it feels like the speaker is talking directly to you. It seems more like a one-to-one conversation despite the audience present.

Now imagine that you could convey that intimate feeling when you are the speaker.

The secret is to speak as if you’re speaking to one person. Sounds simple yet few speakers have mastered this technique.

Here are three changes to make in your presentations to connect with your audience as individuals.

See them as Individuals

The first step is to adjust your mindset. Don’t see a crowd or audience. Instead, see a gathering of individuals. Imagine yourself speaking to each individual one person at a time. You can get into this mindset if you great them as individuals when they arrive. You don’t need to call out every name or where they are from. Simply connect with a few.

The other benefit of seeing them as individuals is that you will feel less anxious about public speaking.

Mind your Words

Stop using crowd language. Don’t refer to them as a crowd.

“Hello everybody” is both impersonal and reinforces that they are part of a crowd. Instead say “Hello”. 

And don’t ask “How is everybody today?” because we know you don’t care. You’re not going to let every person tell you how they are. This question is from the Motivational Speaker 101 fake enthusiasm guide.

The word ”anybody” is equally distasteful, as in “anybody have any questions?” Yuk.

Don’t refer to the audience as “You guys”. Instead say “You” because it is both singular and plural.

Make a point to use the word “you” often during your presentation because every time you say the word, each person feels as if you are speaking directly to them.

Remove plural versions of words that describe the audience. Instead of saying “as members of” say “as a member of”.

Use these phrases:

  • You and your team
  • You and your fellow members

Test your words by asking yourself, “Would this be appropriate I was sitting across the table and talking to one person?”

Eye Contact

When you are in the room with an audience, move your glance from one person to another and hold their eyes for a few seconds before moving to the next person. By the end of the presentation every person should feel that at some point “the speaker was talking directly to me”.

Of course, if you’re speaking virtually, you stare at the glass eye of the camera to convey the same feeling. Look at the camera, not the screen. 

Effective eye contact is from the perspective of the audience not you. It’s not that you thought you looked at them. Did they believe you looked at them?

Convey the feeling that you are speaking to one person.

Imagine how each person will feel when you speak to them as individuals, not a crowd.