Three Simple Ways To Connect With Your Audience

Comments ( 0 )

Last time I spoke about connecting with your audience before you even get up to speak, while you prepare the content of your presentation.

This time I offer three ways to connect with your audience as you deliver your presentation.

1. Eye Contact

Eye contact is the most fundamental way to connect with one’s listeners, whether one-on-one or speaking to a huge auditorium of people.

It grabs and keeps people’s attention:

Eye contact signals to people to “listen up, I’m talking to you” and they will respond in kind. Attending to someone who is making eye contact is a primitive response. It is known that 6-24 month-olds are more receptive to communication when accompanied by eye contact. Research even shows that dogs are too!* And people tend to pay attention when they think you may be looking them in the eye at any time. (Think teacher who is facing the class vs. facing the blackboard. When do paper airplanes fly?)

Eye contact opens people up to you.

When you want to know if someone’s telling the truth, look them in the eyes. “The eyes are the window to the soul.”

If you look into your audience’s eyes, they will feel they know you better. You will seem more trustworthy…more friendly. They will be more likely to believe what you are saying and take the action you are requesting.

In small to medium groups it’s important to look at as many people as you can, each for a sustained period (one idea, one point, a few sentences) Look at them randomly, not in a routine, predictable fashion, and include everyone possible. Even those far to your right or left, which is less natural for us to do.

In larger groups, you can look people close to you in the eye. For people farther away, look randomly at what seems to be a person, and the entire small group around them will have the experience of your looking them right in the eye. As in smaller groups, move your gaze around the room, and they will start to feel that you could be talking to any one of them next (another attention-keeper.)

2. Engage your audience

You can connect with your audience by engaging them in the conversation, either out loud or in their heads.

Ask a rhetorical question and create a picture for them. “Do you remember the last time you went to a department store? Was there a sales person there to help you with what you needed?” (Asked by one President of Wholesale talking about the need for dedicated specialists for that brand) That picture functions for them as a sort of response to your question. You’ve made a connection through a “dialog.”

Or ask a real question and expect responses. You can pose an actual question to open up the conversation more fully. They may bring up issues that you wanted to cover, or introduce another point of view and thus illuminate the topic for you. Outcome: greater connection.

Engage them physically: “Show of hands: who has ever traveled to Asia? Who would like to travel to Asia?” (One President of the international Division of a corporation introducing the topic of their increased business in Asia.) Not only does this wake them up, it gets them involved in a “physical dialog” with you. You can also try, “Stand up if you…”

3. Take in their support

When someone offers us a gift, it really turns them off if we reject them and say, “no thanks, I don’t want that.” It’s the same with your audience. If they are out there, offering their support by paying attention, thinking about what you are saying, feeding you positive energy… you need to take it in.

Their support is a gift. Accepting it increases your connection with them. It leads to a cycle of trust, respect and support between you and your audience. You give to them, they take it in…they give you their support, you take it in.

That means not shutting off to them by putting on a mask. It means being yourself up there and letting them in. Look them in the eyes and smile. Avail yourself of the positive energy being thrust upon you. Breathe it in. Then feed it back to them. Both you and the audience will feel more connected.

I’ve seen it countless times: a presentation can be a pleasure for all involved when you nurture the connection with your audience.

If you enjoyed this article, please consider sharing it!
Icon Icon Icon


  • "As someone who presents opinion pieces and data to large crowds, Kayla was instrumental in helping me focus and deliver the optimal speech and flow. I appreciate her time and intensity on helping me better relay my key points both in context and delivery." Sean Finnegan
  • "Kayla has a real knack for getting to the heart of a message and helping express it both rationally and emotionally for maximum effectiveness. She knows how to put a speaker at ease and get them ready to speak in high-stress situations. An hour with Kayla will make you a ‘Great Communicator." Lisa Merriam, President, Merriam Associates
  • "Kayla was an excellent presentation coach. She not only helped me discoverhow to turn a long, dry presentation into a story that is interactive andinteresting, but also helped me understand what it was that triggered mynervousness and gave me great suggestions on how to control it. Kayla isvery unique and invests all of her energy into your success." Christine Zambrana, Associate Director, Oncology Marketing

Newsletter Signup

All we need is your email: