How to Gain Competitive Advantage as a Speaker

This post was written by Lauren St. Germain, Facilitator and Coach for The Latimer Group.

The cool thing about being a coach, is that sometimes you can impart wisdom on your clients and other times, they impart wisdom back on you.

Recently, I was the recipient of some wisdom when a coaching client shared a key takeaway from one of our workshops. He said something I know, and something that should be obvious given the work we do here at The Latimer Group, but the way he phrased it, and his fresh perspective, really got me thinking.

He said something that stood out from our training was the importance of spending time to “get to know your audience” and that doing so was a “competitive advantage when communicating.”

That’s a showstopper kind of statement, wouldn’t you say?

We talk about the importance of knowing your audience often, but today, I want to provide you with a few questions you can ask yourself as you prepare for your next presentation or important conversation. These questions will help you get to know your audience better and stand out amongst your peers.

  1. What is most important to your audience? This question will help you design a clearer and more persuasive message. I love this one because it forces you to not only think about what is important to you, but to also consider what the other party will care about. For example: let’s say you work in finance and they work in sales. You may care most about keeping costs low to meet your financial targets and they may care most about customer satisfaction to maintain their strong client relationship. If you only speak about costs and fail to even acknowledge the importance of the customer, you may lose the interest of your audience. Show you considered their perspective by acknowledging what is important to them. 
  2. What will the audience need to see? This question will help you design a visual document that complements you as a speaker and meets the audiences needs. Is there a bar chart or graph that can showcase your key points? Is there a graphic that will help them understand the complexity of the topic? Is there a before and after comparison you can make so they can visualize the impact of moving forward with your suggestions? Remember to consider what visuals will help the audience better understand and remember your key points.
  3. What kind of energy does the audience need from you? This question can help you prepare to bring the right energy and enthusiasm to your presentation to keep the audience engaged and interested. Is it a serious topic? They may need a more serious tone of voice. Is this an end of day meeting? They may need you to bring more energy. Is this an exciting topic? Show them that enthusiasm so they feel it too. You can adjust your delivery when you think about what the audience needs.

Carving out time to know your audience well is the singular thing that could help you become a stronger speaker, more confident presenter and more effective communicator. And I am here to boldly claim it and to remind you of how powerful it is. Which strategy will you try first?

Does your team:
– Take too long to make decision?
– Fail to ask for what it wants or needs from you?
– Make things too complicated?
– Deliver unconvincing or disorganized presentations?
– Have new hires who are unprepared to communicate in the workplace?

We transform teams and individuals with repeatable toolsets for persuasive communication.
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Lauren St. Germain

A book about change

The Latimer Group’s CEO Dean Brenner is a noted keynote speaker and author on the subject of persuasive communication. He has written three books, including Persuaded, in which he details how communication can transform organizations into highly effective, creative, transparent environments that succeed at every level.