Oftentimes, we may think the bigger the opportunity, the greater possibility for mistakes to happen. Speaking in front of a group of 20 or even 200 can feel comfortable and completely natural, but what do you do when that audience increases 10-, 20-, or 50-fold? Do your nerves reciprocate? Are the challenges now insurmountable? Not so.
Granted, a different approach is necessary for larger audiences for your message to effectively reach everyone; however, with these four considerations, you will be able to master your message and deliver it with distinction regardless of the multitude of listeners before you.
Embrace your inner thespian.
You're on a stage, so take advantage of it, right?! Be as animated, engaging, and colorful as possible -- but within reason. Avoid losing yourself or sounding like someone who's not you and recognize what you are doing is fully personifying yourself. You are putting on a one-person show that must captivate, stimulate, and engage your larger audience. Give them a show, a lesson, an experience, a personality that they will not soon forget.
Reel in your inner thespian.
Is this a contradiction in terms?! Absolutely not! While you work to provide a breath of fresh air from the stage, be aware of how much is too much. Levity that goes overboard can be equally damaging as a message that's too serious or that is extremely heavy. Strike the right balance in terms of the amount of personality you will give and the specific emotions you want your audience to feel.
Draw the audience to you.
In a smaller setting, you tend to feel a bit more comfortable because of its intimate nature and the proximity of your listeners. It feels easier to reach and connect to everyone, and usually, you lean into your audience. (Pause right now and consider the body language you use while in those smaller rooms that reveals you are going toward your audience and meeting it where it is.) But with larger audiences, get everyone to lean into you. Use your verbal and nonverbal communication to design a message that has them hanging on to your every word; sitting with unparalleled anticipation for what you will say next; hushed, smiling, and definitively wanting what you have to share. Move them in a way so they want to rush the stage!
Be abundantly clear.
It is not as easy - or, to be frank, it's down-right impossible - to check for understanding when you have hundreds or thousands before you. With smaller gatherings, you can see the heads nod or the furrowed brows and, if the latter, then you can offer additional clarification or ask a probing question to arrive at the core of the uncertainty and offer additional details. With a larger audience, you do not have that opportunity, and you can make a serious misstep if you offer a confusing anecdote or make a comparison that includes concepts that are foreign to half the audience. Know your message inside and out, and ensure it flows with no room for hiccups because all it takes is one second of uncertainty or the misunderstanding of a detail to derail your message; and if you miss the blunder, then you may never have a chance to fix it for your audience. Get that message abundantly dialed in, and you've got this!
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