You’re contacted by a meeting planner and you’re scheduled to deliver a speech on a topic you know like the back of your hand. You’re the expert in that topic and you know you can deliver a great, educational and inspirational speech about the topic. But is it really what the audience needs to know? Just because you know the topic well doesn’t automatically mean you’re able to connect with the audience.

connect with the audience

connect with the audience

I learned this lesson the hard way. After speaking to a human resources group on a topic I knew well and was an expert in, I left thinking it was the best I had ever delivered the speech and the information was well researched. It was delivered in an entertaining and educational way and ended right on time. I would have given the presentation a 10.

Unfortunately I didn’t think about the fact that I come from a very different world and had no idea what a human resource employee goes through every day. I’ve never been in that position and dealt with the issues they deal with on a daily basis. So my idea of what they needed was completely different from the truth. These are the things you learn from getting feedback. I hadn’t taken the time to get to know them and their needs. I wasn’t able to step into their shoes and I didn’t really know what they needed to know. So, the next time I spoke to a human resource group I made sure to do my homework and it made a huge difference.

Here are 3 ways you can connect with the audience:

Read the trades

Every industry is different. They all have different issues and speak a different language. Change in every industry is inevitable and there are a number of things that can contribute to that. Like the economy, new regulations, technology, and consumer tastes. This is why it’s important to read their trade magazines and subscribe to their industry newsletters. This is the best way to really understand what they need. You’ll be able to see firsthand what challenges they’re facing right now and will be better equipped to help them come up with valuable solutions.

Consult with the meeting planner

You should make it a point to have one or more conversations with the person that hired you to make sure you’re on track. They know who’s in the audience and what they need to know. They also know the inside jokes and can give you a better perspective on the overall mood of the audience. Find out if there are any subjects they really don’t want to talk about and the ones they would like to go into more depth on.

Find an obscure reference your audience doesn’t know about

This may be a tough one, but if you can pull it off you’ll really connect with your audience. It could be a historical fact or a brand new innovation. Don’t look for the information in their industry trade news because they will be reading the same news. It might require a trip to the library or a phone call to an expert. Run it by the meeting planner or several people in the industry. If they’ve never heard of it, you’ve got a winner.

Give your best information at the beginning of the speech and you should know immediately by their reaction which direction to go in to better connect with the audience. Follow your instincts and let them know you’re there to help them solve their problems.


* Required
* Required, Private