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Three Things Every Audience Wants from You
April 10, 2021 at 4:00 AM
Public Speaker

It doesn’t matter if you are speaking to an audience of one or 1,000. It doesn’t matter if your audience is internal in your organization or external outside your organization. And it doesn’t matter what your audience looks like.

All audiences want you to deliver three things, minimum:

1. The feeling that you get their pain and struggle.

2. An insight that helps them navigate their life, their job, or both.

3. A pathway to help them get from where they are to where they want to go.

Pain & Struggle:

The first mile on the road to influence is emotional connection. Unless you are an uber-celebrity, your audience doesn’t really care about you. Don’t take it personally. It’s the human condition. Audience members operate off of this acronym: WIIFM—What’s In It For Me.

If you address the pain and struggle that your audience currently faces—whether that’s financial, social, family, whatever—then you begin to build an emotional connect. Audience members sense that you get them. Even in a large audience, individuals start to feel like you are talking to them one-on-one. That’s magic. Speak to pain and struggle or don’t expect people to listen to you for very long.


Think about what Moses did when he delivered the 10 Commandments. He gave a group of people that was literally wandering aimlessly in the dessert insights to help them navigate their lives. He did it with straight forward do’s and don’ts. You don’t have to be Moses to help people who feel like they are wandering in their own personal dessert. Most of us feel lost at times, some more than others, but we all feel that way some times. When you can help people navigate the complexity of their lives and or their jobs with some powerful, actionable insights they will see you as a resource.

A Pathway:

Where are you now? Where were you five, ten, fifteen weeks, months, years ago? How did you get from there to here. That’s a pathway. And if you can layout that pathway to your audience in a way that they can see how they can use it in their lives and not merely as a celebration of you, then you have delivered real value.

Here’s an example. I am the play-by-play voice of the Baltimore Ravens, a TV and radio broadcaster who has worked on-air for 35 years. I graduated college with a finance and economics degree. I never took a single course in broadcasting. After several failed interviews for business jobs, I was watching a sportscast with my roommate and friend, Sammy Zepka. He looked at me and said, “You could so do that. You should pursue that as a career.” So I did!

I did’t know that you couldn’t do that, that you could’t just knock on a TV station’s door and ask for an internship, that you couldn’t begin your career in Miami, that you couldn’t broadcast your first football game in the NFL. And because I didn’t know that you can’t do those things, that thought never got in my way. Ignorance served me quite well.

What’s the one thought that’s getting in your way of achieving your goals?

See where you want to go. Put down the long list of reasons you can’t get there and ask yourself, what is the first step I need to take on this journey? For me it was knocking on a TV station door in Miami. I had no plan beyond that. The plan revealed itself to me after I kept showing up. And it will do the same for you.

There’s nothing special about me. Nothing. You have a remarkable journey story to share too. Just share it in a way that helps your audience see it’s pathway moving forward.

Give your audience those three things:

1. The feeling that you get their pain and struggle.

2. An insight that helps them navigate their life, their job, or both.

3. A pathway to help them get from where they are to where they want to go.

Do that and you will have done what you came to do, no matter what the topic is that you are presenting or speaking about.