Thank Your Audience First

February 15, 2021

If you’re reading this, you’re probably an expert, or at least very knowledgeable about what you do for a living. As such, you will likely be tapped on the shoulder from time to time and asked to do something most of us aren’t crazy about doing – speaking to an audience.

For some, speaking publicly is downright scary, and comes complete with sweaty hands, a pounding heart, and shortness of breath. Your amygdala – the part of the brain that processes how we react to fear – is on high alert. And that’s the challenge. Because your amygdala reacts the same way whether we’re being chased by lions or speaking to the Lions Club.

Many of our Wixted & Company clients tell us “I usually calm down and do just fine after the first couple of minutes.” Unfortunately, that’s exactly when your audience is deciding whether to pay attention to what you have to say.

Simply put, our brains need a roadmap to get us through the first 90 seconds of a presentation.  What we teach are six easy-to-learn steps, and we’ll cover each of those steps over the next several weeks.

Step One: Thank your audience. Not a flyby, check-it-off-the-list sort of thing, but a sincere thank you. A shoulders back, smile on your face, look-em-in-the-eyes “Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today.”

One of my favorite moments from a training session involved a client who told us he likes to kick off his presentations with a joke, and that prompted a question from one of our trainers. “Are you funny?” she asked. And while he was considering his answer, his co-workers were all shaking their heads no!

If you’re the joke teller, or worse yet the presenter who just “wings it,” you might want to consider what the legendary Warren Buffett once said: “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”

Once you thank your audience, then the real work begins – connecting with your audience. We will cover that in the next blog. In the meantime, if you’re not sure how to deliver with confidence, let the team at Wixted & Company help you prepare for your next important presentation.


By Jeff Johnson: 

Jeff is a former television anchor and reporter for CBS and ABC affiliates in the Midwest.  In those roles, Jeff has covered state and national events, including the World Series and the NCAA Basketball Tournament.  He has interviewed former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, football great Walter Payton, and baseball legend Bob Feller. Jeff has produced and directed for the Kansas City Royals, Iowa State University, and the PGA Tour.  Jeff earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from Iowa State University, and he minored in Psychology.