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Adjust To Audience Size – Rich’s Rules for Influence # 6

July 15, 2016

Rich's Rules TitlecardI’m fortunate to have extensive training, experience and a gift for communicating with people in a variety of settings.  Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way about communication and influence with various size groups.

So far this series has emphasized the importance of sending a matched message vs. a mixed one in order to be understood and believable.  Harmony between your body language, tone of voice and word choices also supports you in being more persuasive.  One additional challenge is that your matched message must also adjust to fit the setting from an individual conversation to leading a small group meeting to making a larger audience presentation.

When you move from addressing a smaller audience to a larger one it’s helpful to shift your body language from relaxed or composed to more open, expansive, animated or perhaps even exaggerated.  As audience size grows, in order to be heard, you need to increase volume through vocal projection or use of a microphone while maintaining the right tone for the situation.  Your words might shift from informal or conversational to more formal, interesting or entertaining.

The trick with any sized audience is to neither overdo nor under do it.  For example, you’ve been in conversations with individuals who were overly exaggerated with their body language, talked too loud in a close setting or had poor word selection, making you feel uncomfortable and less receptive to the person’s message.  You’ve also had engaging conversations with people who communicated a matched message that fit the setting and situation.  And, you’ve endured listening to a speaker at a large conference who either showed no energy, talked in a monotone or was boring.  In contrast, you enjoyed another speaker who was physically animated, projected his or her voice and used words in an interesting, engaging or entertaining manner.

As for persuasion, sending a matched message according to audience size will not only make you more believable – but also more impressive and influential. Knowing your audience’s situation, needs and key influencers is essential if you want to persuade listeners to new action or thinking.  And, finally, you need to recognize if you are positioned to cheer or inspire your audience to new action, or if you need to use negative warnings or fear of loss messages to get them on board with a new direction.

Rich Drinon, M.A. is a leadership communication coach with an education in leadership communication, 30 years of experience coaching leaders and expertise in the art and science of persuasion.  

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