To Know Your Audience, Be Your Audience.
“Know your audience.”
The first rule of public speaking, right?
But when we have so much to communicate – when we are experts in our field – this is an easy rule to overlook.
I kept her advice in mind when I read this week’s NYT Magazine cover piece, Rich City, Poor City. It tells the story of students from students from two schools in the Bronx, Fieldston (one of the wealthiest schools in the country) and University Heights (one of the poorest) who came together in a program organized by Narrative 4 to listen to and tell each other’s stories – in the first person:
The students paired off, one from each school, and shared stories that in some way defined them. When they gathered as a group a few hours later, each student was responsible for telling the other’s story, taking on the persona of his or her partner and telling the story in the first person (“shattering stereotypes by walking in each other’s shoes,” as one of the Narrative 4 facilitators put it).
This simple act of stepping into the shoes of the other created remarkable bonds between the students in a very short amount of time.
From the Green Room: When you are preparing for a presentation and trying to “know” your audience, take a moment to practice speaking as if you were your audience. Then allow this moment of empathy to guide your presentation.