Create effective connections with your audience

As a Toastmaster, one of the most important things you can do when you give a speech is to connect with your audience. If you don’t create a strong connection with your listeners, you’ll face hurdles in communicating your ideas.

Below are several tips for connecting with your audience:

  1. Stand upright in an open posture because audiences typically don’t take people who are slouching seriously.
  2. Don’t cross your arms when you talk. The only exception is to emphasize a point.
  3. You should use your hands strategically. Most importantly, don’t put your hands in your pockets. Use your hands to make points. But when you’re not using them to make points, it’s fine to keep them at your side.
  4. You should be strategic about eye contact. Notice who is paying attention, and who’s REALLY paying attention. If you know your speech cold (because you’ve practiced it), you should be able to scan the audience without distracting you from vocalizing the words of your speech.
  5. Show your emotions when you talk. That includes smiling, when appropriate. After all, how do you expect your audience to connect with your speech if you don’t seem excited about it.

These rules are important, no matter what the topic of your speech. These rules are also the foundation of telling a good story. So make sure to follow these rules, no matter what ideas you want to communicate.

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Jay Krasnow (ACG/ALB) is the District 27 Public Relations Manager and a member of Challenger Toastmasters, which meets at Asahi Restaurant in Courthouse Plaza (2500 Clarendon Boulevard, Suite G), Arlington, Va., at 7 PM on the first and third Tuesday of the month.