Just 20 minutes into my Speak For Yourself® Workshop in New Jersey an attendee shuffles into the room. It’s not a big room. Everyone stops, as do I, to let him walk in front of me, and the group, to find a seat.

You know the beginning of your presentation is crucial. That’s when you build credibility with your audience, gain their attention, set out your goals, get their buy-in.

This guy misses that train. I stop him – right in the middle of the room – and say, “Hey – I’m going to sit down and let you teach this class!” And I find a seat, leaving this guy center stage.

Note: This maneuver can get you into trouble. It’s edgy. But I was NOT going to leave him up there for more than a few seconds. Reasons FOR doing this: everyone is distracted and you, the speaker, need to address the distraction. At this moment, no one is listening to you anyway.

From my seated position I ask, “What’s your name?” He replies, standing in the middle of the room, “Bill Cutler.”

I pause and respond, “Bill, thank you for founding this company in 1977. You are the reason we are here today. It’s your genius and your tenacity that got your business to its international status during this past 40 years!”

How do you really screw up as a communicator?

Not doing your pre-intel on your audience.

If the ship misses the harbor, it’s rarely the harbor’s fault. Whether you are speaking to your investors, your team, chatting at a cocktail reception, or sending an email – do your homework. Find out who they are, what they do, what matters to them.

Speaking of ships, when this tardy attendee says his name my credibility and trust in that room could have hit an iceberg. By doing some homework ahead of time I avoid a Titanic Moment. He looked different than his website photo, but (thank you Lord) I did know his story.

© Photo: <a href=’https://www.123rf.com/profile_alonesdj’>alonesdj / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

© Karen Cortell Reisman, M.S., author of 3 books and President of Speak For Yourself®, works with decision makers on how to speak with gravitas. It’s all in how you speak for yourself. Karen also speaks about her cousin, Albert Einstein, in a message about hope, resilience and brassieres.

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