The art of connecting to your audiences


Last week, I gave you some theory and hints from speech and communication studies, that would help you navigate through the process of preparing what you will say when preparing a presentation; as promised, this week, I will introduce you to a mindful way to present and speak.

Let me begin with a quote from Artur Schnabel, an Austrian classical pianist 1882-1952:

“The notes I handle no better than many pianists. But the pauses between the notes–ah, that is where the art resides!”

Did you know that in the act of presenting, speaking publicly, teaching etc., there is significantly more occurring than the presentation and/or exchange of conceptual information? Behind and alongside the conceptual information we give out, a large body of non-verbal and paraverbal (tone of voice, how we say things) information is being exchanged.

Many of these processes are happening unconsciously, meaning that people involved don’t immediately notice that they are affected.

Example: You certainly know the feeling when you meet somebody for the first time and you somehow sense that you are not feeling comfortable.

Scientifically we would speak of:

Emotional Contagion:

Unconsciously mimicking the facial expressions, vocal expressions, postures, and instrumental behaviors of those around us, and thereby “catching” others’ emotions as a consequence of such facial, vocal, and postural mimicking.


Mirror Neurons:

A small circuit of cells in the premotor cortex and inferior parietal cortex which are activated both when we perform a certain action and when we observe someone else performing that same action. In other words, they collapse the distinction between seeing and doing.

Examples: You are watching a race, and you feel your own heart racing with excitement as the runners vie to cross the finish line first. Or you see a woman sniff some unfamiliar food and wrinkle her nose in disgust. Suddenly, your own stomach turns at the thought of the meal.

Thus: if you can manage to facilitate a field of belonging for your audience by connecting to them, you bring out the best in them and the best in yourself!

The trick is to learn to be with a group of any size one person at a time by connecting to your listener, allowing yourself to pause between sentences, breathe between thoughts and come to a full stop after big ideas.

You are in fact not screening your audience from left to right etc. as many people do but focusing on one person you feel is receptive to you, only some moments, and then move on to the next etc. Your audience will feel engaged and touched by what you have to say as you engage with them PERSONALLY.

Does this sound interesting and intriguing to you? Contact me to find out more and start to connect with your audiences in a mindful way TODAY!

Enjoy your summer (at least in this hemisphere) and hopefully some time off!


Ever wondered how to become better at presenting/speaking?

Public Speaking

Usually public speaking and presentation workshops start by teaching you a concrete technique or style to enable you to engage your audiences followed with some practice and recordings. The objective in these kinds of workshops is essentially to show you how to put a strong message together and deliver it effectively to your audience. While these techniques certainly help, there is one other aspect that is overlooked many times: your engagement and connection with the audience actually begins before you have even spoken your first word!

But before getting to a mindful way to present and speak in another post, let me give you some theory and hints from speech and communication studies, that will help you navigate through the process of preparing what you will say (in distinction to how you will be and how you will speak/interact)

One helpful and well-used method to organise presentations for maximum impact is called Monroe’s Motivated Sequence which was developed in the 1930s by Alan Monroe, a speech professor at Purdue University (Indiana, US).

He developed a five-step process designed to persuade an audience:

1. Calling attention to a problem

As part of the introduction: get the attention of your audience! Use storytelling, humor, a shocking statistic, or a rhetorical question – anything that will get the audience to sit up and take notice.

2. Demonstrating a need

Convince your audience there’s a problem. The audience must realise that what’s happening right now isn’t good enough – and it needs to change. You want them to become uncomfortable and restless, and ready to do the “something” that you recommend.

3. Satisfying that need

Introduce your solution. How will you solve the problem that your audience is ready to address? This is the main part of your presentation. It will vary significantly, depending on your purpose.

4. Visualizing the benefits

Describe what the situation will look like if the audience does nothing. The more realistic and detailed the vision, the better it will create the desire to do what you recommend. Your goal is to motivate the audience to agree with you and adopt similar behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs. Help them see what the results could be if they act the way you want them to. Make sure your vision is believable and realistic.

5. Calling for action

Your final job is to leave your audience with specific things they can do to solve the problem. You want them to take action now. Don’t overwhelm them with too much information or too many expectations, and be sure to give them options to increase their sense of ownership of the solution. This can be as simple as inviting them to have some refreshments as you walk around and answer questions.

Stay tuned for more and if you are already on holidays somewhere while reading this post: ENJOY the present moment!


Sitting in Silence

Tomorrow I will be giving myself a vacation. I will simply go offline and BE. How wonderful is that? No more thinking, no more running just three days sitting in silence and listening, mindfully to my body, my emotions, my breath.
Here’s sending you positive thoughts for the weekend ahead!

Next week I will be at Caux attending Initiative of Change’s international TIGE (trust and integrity in the global economy) conference. Stay tuned for great insights and more on mindful leadership!