Why making a connection matters

Before you can influence, you must connect with your audience. This has been proven in University studies. At Stanford University students were asked to pair off and discuss a class problem and come to an agreement. 55 percent of the pairings were able to come to an agreement. A second class was asked to do exactly the same activity, with one small difference, before discussing the problem they were asked to introduce themselves to each other and share a little of their background before discussing the problem.

The result was staggering, as a result of connecting on a deeper level, over 90 percent of the pairings came to an agreement.

This clearly shows that making a connection matters! For a speaker who is looking to influence and persuade this presents great opportunities!


There are two key moments that you can utilise to build a connection with your audience. The first is preparing your presentation and the second is as you deliver your speech to them.


Before your speech you have the following opportunities to build a connection with those in the room.


Know your audience

Your first task to build a deeper connection with your audience is to know who they are. The more you know about the people you will be speaking the better you will be able to tailor you presentation to them. This will enable you to select the right ideas to discuss in your speech, select the right case studies and stories, and select the right statistics to persuade your audience.


Tailoring Language

When you know the make up of your audience you can ensure you talk to them in their language. This is provides you a vital “connection edge” – your audience will have much grater trust of you and what you are saying when they intuitively understand what you are saying. And, by using their industry or organisational language they will hear your message at a much deeper level because you are talking with them at their level.


With a well-prepared presentation you can focus your energy and attention to delivering a polished speech.


Meet and Greet

On the day of the presentation you can build a deeper connection by simply shaking hands with your audience as they arrive. This enables you to build a rapport and establish a connection before your presentation even starts.


If you do nothing else, do this step and you will experience a massive improvement in your ability to build a connection with an audience you’re your ability to influence them!


Address Elephants in the room

At the start of your presentation address any “elephants in the room”. What are elephants? Well, they could be anything that is going to distract the audience’s attention from you and what you have to share with them. For example, the air conditioning might be to hot or cold, the lighting in the rom might be sub optimal, or they might have just heard some bad news. What ever it is acknowledge it at the start of your presentation and will allow the minds of your audience to move past it and focus on you and what you are sharing with them


Eye Contact

If you want to engender the trust of your audience you need to establish eye contact appropriately with them. There are various strategies for you to achieve this depending upon the size and layout of the room. Regardless you need to give you’re an audience members a “window” into your authenticity by establishing the eye contact with them.


The study at Stanford highlighted the value of making a deeper connection with those you want to influence. Without making a connection your ability to persuade and get agreement is almost halved. Using the steps covered above will enable you to build a connection with an audience from the moment you start preparing your presentation right through to the delivery of your speech. Enabling you to connect deeper and achieve greater influence.


Thanks to Toy Story 2 for the image
About The Author

Mark Kyte

Mark Kyte is a public speaking mentor and founder of the Public Speaking Skills Academy. Mark loves helping clients achieve dynamic results that help them increase their influence and get more clients. Read more of his blog and if you like what you see check out the mentoring programs.