Being relatable, means that your audience can relate to you and your message and your call to action. The word relate means “make or show a connection between”. Being relatable enables you to demonstrate that you know your audience and have taken the time to craft your message in their langue and that you reflect their values.
Speakers that do not relate to their audience could lose their message or fail to have impact. If the speaker is not relatable, then there could be a mismatch between the message and the audience that toy are speaking to. That is why we have the saying “different folks, different strokes”.
Here are 7 ways that we can make ourselves more relatable to our audience when public speaking.
- Be your authentic self.
Being authentic is about being genuine and honest with your audience. The reverse is putting on a performance or trying to be someone that you are not. People are more likely to relate to someone who is real, authentic, and humble. Part of being authentic is being vulnerable and revealing your own limitations, mistakes and tough journeys.
- Know your audience
The speaker who takes the time to prepare and research and gain a good understanding of their audience will connect and develop rapport resulting in increased relatability. A great way to know your audience is to do a survey of needs or an audience audit. You can also ensure that you arrive early and chat to those early birds who arrive early. You can also phone a few key people in advance of your presentation to get a better understanding of their needs and expectations.
- Have language that is inclusive
Inclusive language is language that uses words like we, and together, and all of us. If you use language that demonstrates that you are in the same boat, or on a similar journey as that of your audience, you will be more relatable. Your message also comes across as less directive and less authoritative and more inclusive.
- Use language that relates to that audience. Engineers v Nurses
As well as inclusive language, you can use specific language that relates directly to your audience. Your audience audit will help inform you around this. Also if you have specific groups, such as a group of engineers, or a group of nurses, research and use your stories and language that relates to their profession.
- Focus on benefits to your audience rather than the features and fine detail
A common marketing strategy is to focus on the benefits of a service or a product, rather than the features. People generally buy based on the benefits or the value to them, rather than the features. When speaking you can highlight the benefits of your message or your idea to your specific audience. The benefits should appeal to them and they will relate to these benefits and to you as the speaker.
- Have a clear intention on what you want to achieve for this audience and be 100% Focused on that.
Being present and focused on your audience with a clear intention of serving your audience will build connection. The intention of putting uour audience first and serving them will demonstrate that you care and help you be relatable.
- Be humble
Do not belittle or try to be better than your audience. Try and be a little humble and allow your audience to ask questions in a safe way (I always say that there are no silly questions). And be aware of being too much the expert, even if you are the expert. The attitude of “I am the expert how dare you challenge or question me” will definitely reduce connection with your audience and make you unrelatable.
This is not a prescriptive formula for being more relatable, but rather a smorgasbord. Try one or two things from this list and see your audience’s response and notice your ability to better relate to your audience.