Forging Emotional Connections With Your Audience by Liz Booth & Jaz Isherwood


Forging Emotional Connections With Your Audience by Liz Booth & Jaz Isherwood

In our Present to Succeed Lessons Learned series, we include all the fascinating, valuable, and wow moments from the sessions of our debut 2021 conference. We aim to share with you the best takeaways and help you improve your presentation craft every day.

Liz Booth and Jaz Isherwood are a fantastic duo from Buffalo 7. Buffalo 7 is an award-winning presentation agency with over ten years of experience in creating premium communications, based in Manchester, UK. They are both Presentation Experience Specialists, with Liz working with clients and doing trainings, while Jaz has experience in design and UX.

They led a very valuable session in our conference where they talked about how you can forge emotional connections and experiences with your audience by being able to identify your audience’s type and further specifics.

Seeing double

Liz and Jaz started by asking a question that we all ask ourselves when we have to present: what is the best way for your audience to remember something? You can visualize it to them, of course, or tell them something repeatedly until they remember it, or demonstrate it to them. There is not a single answer to this question, but Liz and Jaz’s session was all about how you can increase your chances of being memorable and connecting genuinely with your audience.

Liz and Jaz demonstrated in several ways the fact that 71% of Earth is water visually, then by repetition, and then this practical display with a jar. You have to show in several ways what you want your audience to remember. 

One of the first things that they explained was why they decided to present together, which of course, comes down to connecting with the audience. And while it is still rare to see two people presenting online, you have already seen it a million times on the news when the news anchor talks to the expert. The role of the news anchor in that situation is to act as the audience by asking the questions that someone in front of the TV would want the answers to. That is a great example of a dual presenting team.

And for a successful dual presenting team, you need to have two roles – the expert and the engager. Your audience expects you as the presenter to be the expert, or they would not be listening to you. The expert role is essential to give your audience the confidence that they are getting valuable information and to provide authority and credibility. But only providing them with facts and knowledge can leave your audience feeling a little cold, which leads to less engagement. This is when the engager steps in.

The engager acts as the emotional conduit for the audience and humanizes the information delivered. He or she acts as if a member of the audience has gone up on the stage and is asking the questions to help the audience digest the information delivered more easily.

When the expert and the engager act as a team, they deliver data in a way that is both engaging and entertaining. Audiences can feel that chemistry and want to be part of it. Moreover, those roles can be interchangeable, because as in this case, both Liz and Jaz are experts, but they exchanged roles successfully throughout their session.

How can you connect emotionally with your audience

Liz and Jaz told us that 63% of the audience remember stories, 75% of them remember data. But 100% of your audience will make a subconscious emotional assessment of your presentation before they even listen to the data. So, you need an emotional connection with your audience, certainly. Once you have an emotional connection, the logical side of the brain is easier to persuade to be on your side or connect to your pitch.

So, how do you create that connection? The first step is knowing your audience. You can adapt your presentation by understanding that there are many different individuals within your audience and providing the right kind of content for all of them. Liz and Jaz shared that your audience has needs, which can be put into three categories: their learning types, the audience size, and the audience type.

Your audience's learning types

We all prefer to learn in different ways, right? Liz and Jaz suggested that you have to connect with all of the learning types in your audience and make sure that you are not missing connecting with anyone in your audience. There are the visual or spatial learners, the auditory learners, the reading/writing learners, and then the so-called multitaskers who learn while doing something physical, also called kinesthetics.

Your audience can be a mix of any size of the specified above learning types. In order to connect with them, you have to be engaging with all of their learning types.

Most people are visual learners. They prefer visual aids to retain information. For example, they would like a visual slide more than a list of bullet points. They like data visualization as well, and to engage them, consider using charts, maps, diagrams or timelines, instead of bullet points on a page. They also love visual cues like color-coding or using images and icons.

The auditory learners prefer listening. They love verbal presentations like lectures, speeches, and narrative stories. They also love music and sounds, which you can try to fit more into your presentation when possible. For them, simple techniques like repetition, jingles or rhymes, work great. Also, using different tones in your presenting voice can be a great way to engage and connect with them better.

Then there are the people that learn the linguistic way – by reading or writing. For them, the most memorable actions are reading, writing, public speaking, and debating. What works best with them is using storytelling techniques and things like quotes, puns, and rhymes. When it comes down to words, you can type only the keywords in your presentation so they can take the important bits of information at a glance.

The last learning time is kinesthetics. They are true multitaskers because they take the information from the screen while doing something else at the same time. For them, things like interactive polls can help them stay focused and feel more connected. Any type of interactivity is great for connecting with them.

Your audience will be a different mix of the learning types every time, but when you make sure that you have them all covered, you have zero reasons to worry about anyone being disengaged. Most of your audience is likely to be the visual and kinesthetic type. So, for example, in a face-to-face situation, you could demonstrate or pass around your product or your iPad to showcase your project, platform, or website on it. This way, your audience gets to experience for themselves. And expressive body language matters a lot for both types.

Audience size matters

It is critical to adjust your speech depending on how many people are in your audience, according to Liz and Jaz. They specified four categories of audience size – a conversation – up to 10 people, a speech – from 10 to 50 people, performance – from 50 to 100 people, and a show is when you have more than a hundred people in the audience.

When you have a conversation with up to ten people, it is more personal. This audience is all about striking up a conversation with them. Be agile, ask them questions, and make sure you are responding to their answers. Also, keep your presentation flexible so you can go where your audience wants to go, so perhaps avoid the typical linear presentations here.

Get interactive rather than linear, and use a menu-based presentation with hyperlinks. This way your smaller audience can dictate what they want you to talk about and in what order.

For an audience with more than ten people, your presentations need to be a bit more structured and controlled by you. Imagine having up to 50 people pulling you in different directions. Lead them into it. Keep some interactivity, but make sure you have a definite beginning, middle, and end planned.

Then, when you have fifty to a hundred people, it is a performance. These types of presentations benefit a lot from the traditional linear structure. When you have a presentation like this, you would want to have a script and practice it.

When you have an audience that is show size, which is more than a hundred people, connecting with them is all about self-confidence. And that self-confidence comes from practice and experience. In those presentations, Liz and Jaz advised to not have a slow build-up. Cut right to the chase and be concise. Have a clear take-home message and be prepared to be calm if anything goes wrong.

Audience type and your tone of voice

So, in what tone do you have to speak? Corporate or conversational? Your audience type can help you understand that. The four types that Liz and Jaz mentioned are hostile, critical, uninformed, and sympathetic.

Imagine that you are a marketing manager presenting heavy marketing data to the board of your company, money is tight and the budget is the top priority. You know that it is important and that it will be a challenging environment. But you can do this because you know that you have to get to the point fast with the board, as the board is not people who want to be sitting there and messing around. That audience is what is called hostile – you have to be relevant, get straight to the point, challenge their preconceptions quickly, prove your points, and make sure that you have solid evidence that they cannot deny.

The critical audience is the one that wants to think of themselves as experts in the field you are talking about, and they might doubt your expertise on it. You will be tried and tested by them. With an audience like that: keep it fair, even, and reasonable, be rational in your arguments, and always point to the evidence and references. Also, do not oversell or exaggerate with them, play it safe, and keep things steady.

If you have an uninformed audience, ask them a few questions about what they know and don’t know. It would give you a clearer idea of where the gaps in their knowledge are, and you can make sure that your presentation is valuable to them. Start simply with basic facts to bring them up to speed, because they are not experts, and have in mind that they want to be educated and entertained.

The last type of audience is the sympathetic one. You cannot get a better audience than this one. They already believe and trust you, so they do not need too much persuading. Only make sure to involve them by asking questions and cracking jokes.

If you do not know upfront what kind of audience you will have, you can get a feel of it in the first few minutes and adapt. For instance, if you realize that the audience is a little bit hostile, you can get to the key information faster and cut out anything unnecessary from your presentation.

Let's summarize

Knowing your audience is crucial, and now that you read about Liz and Jaz’s session, you’ll be able to engage all of your audience’s learning styles by mixing up your engagement tactics. They also showed how to accommodate your tone of voice to your audience’s size and type by learning how to get a feel of your audience in the first few minutes and adapt accordingly.

Let us know what the most valuable takeaway from Liz Booth & Jaz Isherwood’s session was for you, or share what was your best takeaway from it!
And while reading is great, why not see the whole session yourself? Get the Delivery Track Recordings for the discounted price of €39 or all 30+ sessions for just €79!


Join Present to Succeed - the biggest presentation skills conference in the world

Whether you are part of an organization or running a business, how your slides look will always factor in your success. Learn how to become an influential speaker by joining our 30+ industry-leading speakers’ sessions.

Start engaging your audience better and influencing them to embrace your concepts, hire you, or buy your products. Now is the best moment to get your ticket!

Join Present to Succeed - the biggest presentation skills conference in the world

Whether you are part of an organization or running a business, how your slides look will always factor in your success. Learn how to become an influential speaker by joining our 30+ industry-leading speakers’ sessions.

Start engaging your audience better and influencing them to embrace your concepts, hire you, or buy your products. Now is the best moment to get your ticket!