How do you get the audience on your side?
It helps to have a sense of humor about yourself and the situation. I prefer to avoid posing as the expert, because then I feel that everyone will think I’m a ready target! Instead, I prefer to partner with my audience. It never hurts to acknowledge that “the collective expertise in the room far exceeds my own” and then ask for examples or information from the seasoned members of the audience. This will validate them and diplomatically move them into co-facilitator roles.
Ask for and use participant’s names when acknowledging comments or questions or when setting up simulated role playing in which the participants simply loan you their names for the story of the role play and do nothing more.
Speak in language that is accessible for the audience and shows that you are familiar with their buzz words and concerns.
Share information about yourself that is relevant to the topic and to the audience, so that they can feel that you understand or have experienced issues similar to their situations.
Don’t be afraid to smile and to be yourself.
If the audience believes that you are sincere and honest; if you present your information clearly and concisely, using language appropriate for the audience; if you reference their issues; and if you are respectful of their expertise and experience, the audience is much more likely to accept you and be open to your presentation.
That’s how you can get an audience on your side!