Mistakes will occur in public speaking. It is a fact. However, there are things you can do to avoid some mistakes if you know your audience. |
It was a lovely Saturday at a resort on Lake Huron in Canada. I was scheduled to give an afternoon talk to a few hundred lawyers and their spouses. All was well until I discussed a particular lawyer by the name of Julius Melnitzer. I described him as a most colorful man, explaining that his outgoing personality and colorful expressiveness were responsible for both his success and his eventual failure. At that very moment, the room went from comfortably warm to cold. No, the temperature did not drop, but the atmosphere in the room suddenly cooled. And I could not understand why.
What had I said? Why did this most receptive audience suddenly become non-responsive? Yes, I knew that the lawyer I had mentioned had been sent to prison for the largest personal loan fraud case in Canada’s history. What I didn’t know, however, was that the law firm I was addressing had a history with this man and that the mention of his name – either positive or negative —was something I should have avoided.
Had I done my homework, I would have known not to mention Julius Melnitzer to this particular group of people. I probably could have described Melnitzer to a group of doctors, teachers, or pharmaceutical reps; and, in most likelihood, there would have been no problem. What I never considered was the fact that Melnitzer had not only defrauded the banks but he had defrauded his colleagues and friends as well. And, a vast number of them were sitting in that audience!
Researching your audience is one of the most important things you must do when you are invited or hired to speak. Yes, it is called homework. And, your success depends on it. You may get by once or twice without knowing to whom you are speaking; but, I guarantee that eventually you will get caught. It is also important to do that ‘homework’ before you create your speech or presentation.
The best way to research is to be on top of current events: listening to the radio, watching the news on TV, or reading the news on your computer every day. Googling for information about the group or the firm to whom you will be speaking is another means of discovering pertinent information. Assuming the group or firm has a website, read their press releases or check out their media pages.
My ignorance was not only a poor excuse for not knowing my audience but it was also a costly one because I lost any potential business with that firm. Thankfully, it was an excellent teacher!
Watch The Voice Lady Nancy Daniels as she describes Dynamic Public Speaking Skills at Voice Dynamic or if you are interested in working personally with Nancy, check out her Voice Training Workshops.
Related Articles -
julius melnitzer, practice speech out loud, know your audience, mistakes public speaking, speak with color, speak with expression, receptive audience,