Let’s get some things out of the way:
- We all are experts here in our area.
- Most of us have teaching or speaking experience.
- We all know our main goal of creating a course is to help our audience/clients improve in the area we excel in.
- We also USUALLY take time to consider what they will say about our course… Well, we imagine the good things they will say.
But how often do we look at our content like a cynic? How often do we look at our content with the intent to refine and fix it? Do we ask ourselves questions like, “But what will they really say? What will they really experience?”
I have the benefit of having a classroom full of complaining, lazy, unmotivated teenagers in my head.
This classroom full of teenagers complains when I do anything that wastes time, is redundant or doesn’t make sense. These teens make sure that I am a balance of entertaining but also organized and well-spoken. These teens will let me know only if I’m doing something bad, but if I am doing something good, there is quiet and sometimes… if I’m amazing… ONLY if I’m amazing… they will tell their friends.
Isn’t that what we want? Our audience to love us so much that they will tell their friends?
Teenagers are not much different from adults:
In audience roles, we know the information we are receiving is valuable and we know the teacher is knowledgeable, but if they aren’t giving us what we expect, we mentally complain. We will never tell others about what we learned, we won’t ever go back to them, or sometimes we will go as far as ask for our money back.
When students complain, as much as we want to think it’s the students fault, it isn’t. It is the teacher’s fault.
If you want to be a dynamic speaker/teacher, you HAVE to think about the audience’s experience!!
That classroom full of teenagers is why I do what I do. I have done the dirty work for you. I have taken one for the team of entrepreneurs. I have fought my hardest in that classroom full of teenagers to learn good teaching strategies, know which activities are fun but time wasters, and begin to anticipate the response before EVERY lesson, activity or question. Which activities I think will be amazing, but are received with rolled eyes and a sigh.
Like Tom Ziglar says about his father in The Secrets of Closing the Sale: Anticipate the response of the audience and answer their questions before they are asked.
Many people want to have an amazing and successful course or speaking career, but they don’t want to look at their speaking with the critical eye of those complaining teenagers. They want to think that their knowledge and insight will carry them. They want to think the audience cares about their topic as much as they do.
Sorry to say, they don’t. But it is our job to get them to care… It’s our job to make them realize the value of caring. It’s our job to get them to have an unforgettable experience. One that will get them talking to their friends about you.
Because your audience won’t talk about you, unless you make them.
The audience experience is 100 percent dependent on what you do, what you say, how you say it, what you ask them to do, what you do while they are doing what you ask of them and how you follow-up with them.
There are a lot of successful courses and successful speakers. The market is getting overwhelmed to be honest. But YOU don’t have to be one of the same. What is going to make you stand out? Your connection with your audience and your understanding of the audience experience.
Here are a few tips to improve your audience’s experience:
- Ask questions that elicit a response. Ask questions that they WANT to answer! People WANT to tell stories and share their knowledge. Give them time to do that and care about what they say!!
- Don’t tell them what they already know. But if you must, tell them they already know it!! Ex: “You probably already know ___ but I need to remind you so that we can grow to the next step.”
- Think about the trolls. Don’t dwell on them but consider what they might say. Consider if you are boring, long-winded, uncaring, or so smart you make zero connection with people. Consider what they might say and fix yourself before they get a chance to say it.
- Teach someone in real life who will tell you the truth. Someone who is at the same level as your target audience. And take notes!! What questions do they have? What are they confused about that make you have to reteach them? What terms, phrases and other details do you need to explain further?