3 Questions In The Mind Of Your Audience

How To Keep Your Audience Listening

In every audience’s mind, there are 3 unconscious questions. How well you answer them determines as to whether your audience will keep listening to you.

Interestingly, these 3 questions aren’t restricted to an audience evaluating a speaker. Whenever we are introduced to someone new or consider buying a new product, we ask ourselves the same 3 evaluative questions and objections without consciously realising it.

The 3 Questions

  1. Who are you to me?
  2. How will I benefit from this?
  3. And what kind of commitment must I make?

Whether we shop for groceries, analyse the government budget or listen to a colleague speak at a meeting, these are the same critical 3 questions in the mind of your audience every time.

You may now be re-evaluating the last time you spoke, whether it was in a small meeting, large group or a networking event. Did you establish the answer to those questions with your listeners? And did you do it right up front to counter unconscious objections so they quickly became engaged and interested?

Listen to Them, First

Answer those 3 unspoken questions in the first few minutes and your audience credibility escalates. Your listeners will relax and be open to hear what you say, because you listened to them, first.

As an added bonus, you’ll find it easier to write speeches, presentations and workshops if you begin by answering those 3 unspoken questions for yourself, right up front.

(c) 2016-18. Geraldine Barkworth, public speaking coach. This article is the author’s opinion only. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

Pause Power: Slow Down When You Speak

Speakers who speak too quickly are often described as “overwhelming” and like “chipmunks on speed.”  People learn, listen and process at different rates, so if you speak TOO fast, your listeners may switch off because they cannot make sense of your ideas.

Here’s a 3 minute video I made about Pause Power and how to find your natural pace when you speak:


So if you are a naturally fast speaker, how do you remain true to yourself and communicate effectively with slower paced listeners?” I’ll start by sharing a story of when I was running a speaking workshop for some Brisbane Librarians:

Find Your Own Pace
Sitting within an intimate circle, I demonstrated how to speak impromptu by pausing and waiting until words arose. I had not had my morning coffee and was feeling slow and sleepy. So, honouring how I was feeling,  I spoke, slow and sleepy. And so did the next 8 people after me. I was thinking, “Wow! What a relaxed, deeply feeling group!” Then we got to Librarian Number 9 and she burst out:” Oh my god I just can’t do it! I can’t be slow. I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry! It’s just me! I have to break out and speak fast!”

As the facilitator, I hadn’t realised that the group was copying my style and assumed I was demonstrating the “right way” to do impromptu speaking. Thank you Librarian No 9 for reminding us to be ourselves. After that, participants found their natural speaking groove and I had my coffee!

How To Slow Down
Most of us do speak too fast. A slower pace, using gravitas, is restful and impactful. Listeners have time to absorb your words and if you are speaking to them, you want to create a maximum listening environment for your message to be heard.

You do not need to change your essential self and be something you are not. You just need to pause frequently. Imagine where the commas, colons, dashes, fullstops and new paragraphs would begin if your talk was in writing. That’s where you pause. Give people time to digest. A pause is like a non-verbal full stop. So take a risk and stop. It is only a matter of seconds or a couple of breaths.

And when you take those breaths, make eye contact with your listeners and use your whole body to connect with one person at a time. Actively using your body will also release your energy out through your limbs, rather than just your mouth!

A good way to practice finding the most effective pace for you, is to read out loud. And exaggerate the pausing opportunities like commas, fullstops and the main points in a sentence or idea.

What You Can Do
Use these “punctuation opportunities” as a guideline to slowing down with spacious ease:

  • To indicate a “comma” when you speak, stop and take a mini pause.
  • To indicate a “full stop” when you speak, stop and take a short pause of at least one full breath.
  • To indicate a “new topic or new paragraph” as it were, stop and take a big pause of at least three breaths.
  • Watch the British movie “The Kings Speech” which clearly demonstrates the impact and benefit of slowing your speech down. I’m not suggesting you speak as slowly as the King; I’m suggesting your natural pace will be enhanced with the mindful addition of pauses and a sense of spaciousness.

If you are a naturally fast speaker, then be mindful of your pace, ensuring your words are not tumbling insensibly from your lips. A chipmunk on high speed is cute only for a short time. Pause graciously at regular intervals to check your listeners are still with you and not overwhelmed. Smile, slow down and remember to take the scenic route.

© 2012, Geraldine Barkworth, authentic speaking coach. This article is the opinion of the author only. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

Speak & Listen With Presence

There is no quicker way to lose your audience than by “going through the motions”. Remedy that by learning to speak listen with presence.

“Going through the motions” means your body is present, but your mind and spirit have left the building.  Sometimes the audience is quicker to recognise memorised, disingenuous rote, than the speaker / trainer themselves.  This is sad.  Going through the motions leads to boredom, the dulling of creativity and a loss of credibility. To speak listen with presence, start by listening to your audience first.

First, Listen To Your Audience

Presence is the opposite to “going through the motions.”  Body, mind and spirit are working harmoniously, fully connected in the present moment.  An audience “switches on” when they realise the speaker / trainer is authentic and available to them right here and right now.  It charges the atmosphere and inspires trust, rapport and connection and generates credibility, energy and impact.  This is exciting.  Being present produces new paradigms, spontenaity, flexibility and empowered results. Listening to your audience allows you to be present with them.

Begin With Presence

Start with presence, by preparing yourself in advance. The state of presence is a habit like any other and until it becomes second nature when you speak in public, you need to prepare the space you will step into, mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Recognising the importance of your presentation to you and others, provides motivation and clarity for making time to prepare. Insufficient preparation is the most common public speaking mistake. When you don’t like public speaking, there is a tendency to over prepare (obsess) or under prepare (avoid). Like Little Red Riding Hood, talk preparation needs to be “just right” for you. By designing your own preparation habit or ritual, you send yourself the message, “This talk is important, worth my time and I am going to be present for it.” ” I am going to speak & listen with presence. ”

What is your usual pattern of behaviour before a talk? Does it serve you or dishonour you?

Stay With Presence

Stay present, by accepting that you will move in and out of the present moment with your group or audience.  That’s life. The key is to not beat yourself up when you feel a disconnect and thus get preoccupied with your own story.  Instead, stop, take a breath, connect with one person and give yourself permission to start again with them.  Staying present is a series of small comings and goings riding on the ebb and flow of mindful awareness.

Finish With Presence

Finish with presence, by making it clear to everyone that you are indeed finishing. Use verbal clues with a clear instruction like: “We’ll wrap up in ten minutes and then I’ll invite questions.” This will swing every participant’s attention back to the present moment (as well as your own), alerting them to be prepared for all that your finish may entail (Q & A, assessment, feedback, special offers).

Even if you felt disconnected throughout your presentation, you can still finish with a good connection. Stay still when you acknowledge your group in completion, making genuine eye contact with one person at a time. Take your time and stay grounded and focussed, allowing participants to acknowledge you with whatever they offer, like a clap, cheer or nod, accept it graciously and finish your presentation fully present, without your mind rushing off to the next thing.

Speak Listen With Presence Starts Now

Listeners are usually most alert at the beginning and the end of a training talk, presentation or conversation, so make the most of it by connecting strongly. Connecting with presence takes less than ten seconds.  Speak listen with presence happens every time you choose. Once you know how, you can do it anytime, anywhere.

© 2011-17, Geraldine Barkworth, authentic speaking coach. This article is the opinion of the author only. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au