If your listeners like you, they’re more apt to accept what you say. Your job is to build rapport from the lectern so that you connect with everyone.
To curry favor with an audience, some speakers tell long stories that they enjoy. But you’re not up there to amuse yourself. What you deem funny may fall flat on others.
Try these subtle ways to turn your listeners into friends:
Cite triumphs from the crowd. Weave into your speech a few shining examples of superior performance by individuals in the audience. Mention them by name and express your admiration.
Sure, you can argue that complimenting people massages their ego. But more importantly, you break down the barrier between speaker and audience and let listeners bask in a bit of glory.
Gesture the right way. Never point at the audience with your finger. Instead, use open-hand gestures to recognize someone in the crowd. Finger pointing can appear overly aggressive.
As a rule, gesture sparingly. Swinging your arms wildly can make you appear jittery—and waving your hands in front of your face will sever eye contact with the audience.
Invite discussion. Few speakers are so magnetic that they can lecture for 20 or more minutes and rivet everyone’s attention. So don’t even try. Involve the group by posing questions and allowing people to speak up.
The risk is that you can’t control the answers and some people might pipe up with wrong or off-the-wall comments. If that happens, ignore what you hear and either call on someone else or resume your presentation.