Features of interaction between the speaker and his audience

Every occasion you give a speech is unique. If this is a work report at a meeting, you will be listened to by default. But it also happens when you need to fight for the audience’s attention, try to convey your views to them, and get support. The success of not only a specific performance, but also the realization of your global goal may depend on this.

Remember how in the movie “Wall Street” the young broker, played by Ch. Sheen, had only 5 minutes to convince the “shark” of the stock market (M. Douglas) to take him on his team? And in fact, no matter how competently the speech is composed, no matter what artistic means and techniques are used, no matter what the preparation, the final success depends largely on how interested you are in the audience in perceiving what is said.

Undoubtedly, the speech should be appropriate, but there are times when apathy, or even unfavorability, needs to be overcome not only by relevance or beautiful words. You need a strategy for working with the audience that will increase the significance of the speech, convey its message and turn the listener into a follower of your views. We want to talk about some mechanisms and tricks of interaction with the audience in this lesson.


Establishing contact with the audience begins with the formation of eye contact. I will give the most primitive example, which will immediately clarify why it carries such great significance. Tell your loved one "I love you." Do this three times. The first time - looking straight into the eyes, the second time - looking somewhere to the side, the third time - looking at another person. After each such confession, pay attention to what this person’s reaction will be to your words. Just try it and you will see how much eye contact increases the significance of your words in the eyes and mind of the interlocutor.

The same approach applies to public speaking, and all for one simple reason: the optic nerve is about 50 times thicker than the auditory nerve. It is through visual images, that is, with the help of our eyes, that we absorb about 90% of all information about the world around us. It is your view of the public that determines how they perceive you. Often, a speaker's eyes reveal more information about him than his speech.

ADVICE. This material is a logical continuation of the articles “Fear of Public Speaking”, “Preparation for Public Speaking” and “Structure of Public Speaking”. For a more complete and in-depth understanding of the topic, I recommend that you also read it.

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Everyday life is full of officialdom: when communicating with clients, partners and superiors, people are forced to follow a lot of rules. Against this background, social networks become a kind of resting place: here you can show your true colors, complain about life, or share jokes.

People expect much the same from companies that have established accounts on social networks. Clerical language, “polished posts” and standard marketing phrases are unlikely to arouse interest. They subscribed to you to see the company from an unusual side and get to know the internal kitchen. Try to show what is hidden - involvement in this secret will make the audience more loyal.

Where does the performance begin?

As I discussed in the previous article, “The Structure of Public Speaking,” the initial phase of any such event is establishing contact with the audience. Here we will figure out how to achieve the same effect, but almost without words. To do this, it is necessary to give your face a friendly look with a slight smile when going out to the audience. As usual, it is important not to overdo it, not to squeeze it out of yourself and not to stretch your mouth to your ears, otherwise your falsehood will be extremely obvious. Be natural and sincere in expressing your feelings.

Once in front of the public, take your time to look at everyone present. Take a quick look at the faces and try to look into the eyes of literally each of them. If you catch a glance from someone sitting in the hall, nod slightly in response to emphasize that you noticed it. Even if you see everyone present for the first time and none of them is familiar to you, noting their eyes with your quick glance, you thereby establish subconscious contact with them. Then, during the entire event, this contact will remain quite firmly. This is exactly how the initial contact with the audience should be.

Official appeals

This category includes the familiar boring and banal common appeals. They are useful for official letters, statements, appeals, reports, in general, any communications that require a given format.

Generalized impersonal

You don’t have to rack your brains, but simply write “good afternoon (morning, evening)”, “hello”, “have a nice evening (day, morning, night)”. This will be appropriate everywhere and always.

Generalized personal

Ladies and gentlemen, madam and monsieur, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, citizens, comrades, respected. By the way, “respected” can serve as both an independent address and a universal adjective for almost any address of any category, for example, dear audience. In some cases, you can add the word “dear” to the address; let’s remember Boris Nikolaevich with his constant: “Dear Russians.”

By professional or social background

Colleagues, employees, co-workers, students (you can specify the course), teachers, schoolchildren, parents, military personnel, fellow soldiers, classmates, customers, subscribers, clients, guests, athletes, journalists, PR people, businessmen, plumbers, doctors, riot police, environmentalists. You can continue ad infinitum. If your target audience has a common characteristic, come up with a message based on it.

Geographical, national and religious

Russians, residents (here you can specify a country, region, region, district, city, village or street), compatriots, emigrants, Muscovites (Ekaterinburg residents, St. Petersburg residents, Krivoy Rog residents - residents of a particular city), Uralmash residents (car factory workers, Kanavin residents - residents of a particular area). This also includes appeals to representatives of specific nations (Siberian Tatars, Crimean Germans, small peoples of the North, Russians, Ukrainians, Buryats) and adherents of various religions (Orthodox, Muslims, Orthodox Christians, Buddhists, Jews).


Another specific category, but since we have begun to classify, we will not ignore it. Communists, United Russia members, Putinists, Liberal Party members, Fair Russia members, anarchists, monarchists, nationalists, young Leninists, democrats, liberals, party members.

Establishing contact with the audience

As we have already found out, establishing eye contact, speaking in the language of analogies, is not chaotic bombing, but targeted missile strikes. It is useless to try to establish contact with the entire audience, because this is simply impossible. Instead, make eye contact with everyone in the audience. You may think that this may take quite a lot of time and will distract you from the main task, but in practice, everything is much simpler. Our eyes can move at incredible speeds, allowing you to change direction in just a split second. Give literally a split second to every glance you meet from the audience, so you can establish contact and reach a large number of listeners in a short period of time. Your task is to glide over your eyes, but not to linger on them.

In the first seconds of your speech, when you instantly skim across faces and establish contact with the audience, namely with those listeners who are already looking at you. Then those who usually fiddle with their phones or tablets during such events also raise their eyes. The moment you begin your speech, they will raise their eyes and you will meet them with yours. After such eye contact, when a person sees your oncoming gaze, he will subconsciously conclude that you see him among the entire crowd and may even be following him. This will encourage him to listen to you more attentively and no longer lower his eyes back to the gadget. Next, during the speech, wait for the moment when those listeners who are not accustomed to looking at the speaker at all raise their eyes. No matter what they do while listening to you, sooner or later they will raise their eyes and, having discovered your oncoming gaze, they will not lower them for a long time.

Work off the negative

Posts with reviews and testimonials are a common genre for any social network. Users regularly tell subscribers about trips to restaurants, fitness clubs and beauty salons. For most, this has become an occasion to share their impressions, no less than going on vacation or going to a concert, so people do not expect an inevitable reaction to a neutral or positive review. Rather, it becomes a pleasant bonus.

Important! Negative reviews hit the image very hard, and silence on the part of the company only aggravates the situation. Special services that “catch” mentions will help you avoid missing anything: YouScan, Babkee, IQBuzz.

It’s almost impossible to build a business without encountering negative reviews, so you shouldn’t get upset and take them to heart. Many conflicts can be smoothed out if you are attentive and caring.

To professionally deal with negativity on social networks, you need to remember the following:

1. Never delete negative reviews

It's difficult to hide anything on the Internet. Other subscribers can see the comment before you, and the author can take a screenshot. A company that pretends that bad reviews never existed looks immature, like a child who erased a D in his diary.

2. Be calm

To avoid escalating the conflict even further in the heat of the moment, cope with your emotions and take a short pause before responding. The person on the other side of the screen is also upset and angry; he expects help and attention from you, not mutual insults.

3. Be mindful of other users

Any conflict on the Internet is public, which means that along with the victim of bad service, the rest of the audience follows its development. Show them that you care and are responsive.

4. Don't start a war

If the client accuses you fairly, admit guilt. If he exaggerates, politely explain the situation and apologize for the misunderstanding. Under no circumstances should you start a war with personal attacks and a vindictive desire to prove that your opponent is a scoundrel.

5. Solve the problem

Polite apologies without specific action can be annoying, so you need to publicly share how you are solving the problem and report back on the results. In some cases, it would be useful to offer a conciliatory bonus: a discount, free delivery, a souvenir.

Mistakes in working with the audience

The most common mistake you can make when connecting with your audience is overlooking parts of it. Often these are the back and side rows, that is, the extreme seats at the end of the hall and along its flanks. As a rule, it is from these places that the most sensitive or provocative questions are often asked. It is in these rows that people rustle, click, whisper, nervously cough and even giggle mischievously all the time. What is the reason for this? As a rule, the fact is that these places are usually not given enough attention, which is also explained by the level of your professionalism, that is, the ability to cover and captivate everyone present with the topic.

As you know, the viewing angle of a beginner in public speaking is about 35 degrees, while that of an experienced speaker is up to 45 degrees. In other words, one of the popular mistakes in working with the public is establishing contact with the audience exclusively within your own viewing angle, which allows you to work only with its middle. It is with those listeners who are in the central part of the audience that good eye contact is often formed from the very beginning to the end of the speech. Representatives of these particular places listen carefully, nod their heads and demonstrate interest in every possible way.

Use interactive

Community subscribers can become its co-authors. Few people come to social networks to purposefully read about goods and services - mostly users want to have fun and get their share of attention.

Invite people to share photos, favorite music, movies or recipes: this way subscribers will receive lively and useful content, and you will receive popular posts with a lot of comments. If you are not sure that your subscribers are ready for complex actions (write comments, take photographs, search for pictures), limit yourself to a survey.

Based on feedback from social networks, business processes can be adjusted. Sometimes brands directly consult with subscribers about further work. Which cocktail to take off the menu? Is it worth bringing shoes from an expensive Italian brand to the store? Perhaps subscribers on VKontakte or Instagram are not the most representative sample, but their opinion is valuable if only because they decided to follow the life of your company on social networks.

Subscribers are happy to join the game, from which they can get some benefit. Standard contests with reposts are of less and less interest to users, and they are perceived more as an increase in likes and subscribers, rather than as good deeds. Therefore, it makes sense to look for more interesting forms.

Work on mistakes

First of all, you should start by choosing a place in front of the audience that best provides the speaker with a favorable and successful contact with the audience, literally with everyone present. Since the rooms in which the speaker speaks every now and then are almost always different from each other, choosing a place solely based on their size is a thankless task. For this reason, among both beginners and more experienced speakers, an unspoken rule has come into use, the essence of which boils down to the fact that in the optimal position the speaker stands so that the distance between him and the side seats (left and right) of the first row of the audience forms equilateral triangle. Moreover, it is equilateral, but not isosceles. This position of the speaker relative to the audience is considered optimal.

This rule can be applied to both square and rectangular and other hall configurations. Thanks to it, you can easily determine what point is best for you to be in order to establish contact with the audience as smoothly as possible. Moreover, this rule is of particular importance for the initial phase of the speech, since throughout its entire duration the speaker needs to move around the audience from one end to the other. Particular attention should be paid to the so-called “signals of loss of attention.” We are talking about those places from which you can hear a quiet conversation, the rustling of candies, smartphone alerts, etc. As soon as you focus your gaze on these rows, their attention is restored almost instantly. Experience has shown that your most loyal allies are those who initially considered themselves deprived of eye contact. During the event, approach different sides of the audience and direct your questions to different parts of the room. This can be done both with the help of gaze, and with the help of gestures and words directly.

At what point do you start asking questions?

Better - earlier. I would start asking questions in the first five minutes of the speech. In my experience, people are quite quick to determine the genre of a performance: is it passive viewing or interactive? If you've been talking for ten minutes and suddenly ask something, the listeners have to completely reconsider their concept: “Oh, the talking head is asking you to choose an answer, what a surprise!” It may take them a while to warm up and start responding to you.

On the other hand, there is a way to go on stage and say: “Raise your hands, how many of you watch Netflix.” Wait, I don’t love you yet, I’m not ready to raise my hand for you yet. Give me something first. Ask me something that is important to me, not to you. I wouldn't start with questions and wait for answers.

You can start with rhetorical questions.

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