If there’s one thing you never set out to be as a leader or communicator, it’s boring.
And yet everyone who communicates, preaches or even tries to persuade someone of an idea has discovered that sinking sense that you’ve lost your audience.
How exactly does that happen?
I’ve been communicating professionally since I was 16 years old in radio, law and for the last two decades, preaching and speaking, and over the years have become a student of what engages people and what doesn’t.
I learned the principles below because at one point or another, I violated all of them.
Here are seven factors that disengage an audience that are so easy to miss if you’re not looking for them.
1. You haven’t understood or empathized with your audience
There is no such thing as a ‘generic’ audience; you really can’t connect with your audience if you don’t understand them.
Recently I spent some time with a friend talking about a conference we’re both speaking at.
Because I knew the audience better than he did, he spent 40 minutes asking me exactly who would be in the audience, what their hopes and fears are, what they struggle with and how he should approach them.
I was amazed by this for a few reasons.
First, my friend is a multiple New York Times bestselling author and speaks to large influential audiences all the time. If anyone could just waltz in and speak, he could.
Second, even though he has far more offers to speak than he can possibly accept, he is infinitely interested in the audiences he speaks to.
The fact that he’s so in demand, so good at what he does and that he cares deeply about his audience is likely all connected.
The more deeply you care about your audience, the more deeply they’ll care about what you say.