At least four out of ten people in every Get to the Message Presentations Workshop say: “I want to engage my audience.”
“Engage” may not be the right word choice as its definition includes charming, appealing, agreeable, dazzling, arresting, captivating, enchanting and bewitching. It seems like the word “Connect” makes more sense in business: A connection is a link, logical relation, something that joins, entwines, unites. “I want to connect with my listeners” is a worthy goal. Now it is about finding links to connect two parts—you and the listeners.
You can establish a link to your audience with the questions you ask. What better way to connect than by asking people to share their comments and ideas? Ask questions so you learn, listen respectfully and prove you understand all points of view. To get you going, look through The Book of Beautiful Questions by Warren Berger.
Meetings are frequently held in order to make decisions. To reach agreement and buy-in, ask some of these questions during your next in-person or virtual meeting.
- Who else do you need to hear from in order to make a decision?
- What critical information is missing that will help you make a decision?
- What would need to be different so you can agree to this?
- What else would you add or change in this recommendation?
- Will you share if you disagree with this and why?
- Will you “pretend” to oppose this and give reasons?
- Can you share where the logic does not make sense?
- What will make this fail?
- When does this decision need to be made? Today? Next week?
- What’s missing from your perspective?
- What risks/challenges/benefits do you see?
- Are we going to regret this in six months? One year? Five years?
Hint: When given a 20-minute meeting slot with executives, only talk for five to ten. Be ready with questions so you can find out what your listeners think. They will probably ask you questions but be prepared to ask your own as well. Your questions and answers to executives should also be focused on how they see the world. Read this or 6 Rules for Communicating with Executives to know how to focus your questions.
Claudyne Wilder runs a boutique presentation business. Wilder Presentations offers Get to the Message presentation workshops and consulting services to organizations ranging from Fortune 500 pharmaceutical firms to community-based non-profits. Claudyne is the creator of TorchMetrics, an innovative online tool that operates on your device as a customized speaking coach.
With a Masters in organizational development, Claudyne coaches on including the right content with the right number of details as well as on message-oriented slides and persuasive, engaging delivery. Having extensively studied Argentine Tango for over ten years, she brings the idea of “connection” to her clients to help them more passionately engage with their audience.
The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company.