Your audience is looking for you to guide them on how to best interact; therefore, you need to create an environment that’s safe and comfortable for them to do that.
The easiest way to do this is to ask yourself to be vulnerable before you ask your audience to be vulnerable. This means that calling on your audience by name, asking them to answer questions with anything other than just a show of hands, or intimidating them in any way is unacceptable.
Instead, you need to learn how to open in a way that demonstrates your expertise, your humor, your insight, or your facts, and why that is relevant to your audience. This means that for the first eight minutes of your presentation you are not asking your audience to answer questions or do anything that can make them feel vulnerable, awkward, or exposed.
Let me give you an example of what I have seen people do that makes your audience feel exposed. I once saw a speaker ask his entire audience to close their eyes at the beginning of the presentation. This makes an audience extremely uncomfortable because you have removed some of their control, and it will create an automatic distancing between them and you.
Remember, your audience wants to go on a journey with you; you just need to make it safe for them. By being clear about how to interact with you, you make it safe for them to interact positively with questions.
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