The speaker on stage was excellent. She had it dialed in: the audience was attentive, involved and the room was full of energy and laughter. The man standing next to me leaned into me to whisper “She is really good. Sure glad I am not up next. That would be one tough act to follow”.
What this man did not realize is I was the next speaker and in a few minutes I would be taking the stage with this same audience. My assessment of the situation was quite the opposite of his though: I was delighted with what she was doing with the audience and how she was setting me up for success. I knew when I took over, the audience would be alive, active, fully charged and ready to take it to the next level. She had in essence, built a podium of success for to me to step up to.
As I took the stage, I acknowledged what a great speaker had preceded me. I reminded the audience of her energy and felt the room liven up again at just the thought. Then I worked my own magic on the audience and gave the audience my best. Being ready for the presentation helped: I had a clear goal, an outline, and used the confidence that comes with properly preparing to catapult the audience to new heights.
Many speakers, including the man I mentioned earlier, are intimidated in this situation and start with something like “That is one hard act to follow.” That type of statement implies you are intimidated and immediately lowers your credibility both to your audience and in your own mind.
The next time you find yourself following a really great presenter, rather than bring the energy down, boost it by taking one of these approaches:
- Thank the speaker and highlight a part of the talk you found helpful
- Acknowledge the speaker’s success to the audience, for example, open with” Wow! – That was one great presentation –don’t you think?”
- “Let’s have another round of applause for that great presentation”
- Highlight a point the speaker made and how it relates to what you will present
Rather than dread following an excellent speaker – ride the wave of energy and excitement. Express gratitude to the previous speaker, acknowledge how good they are then give the audience your best.
© 2016 iSpeakEASY. All rights reserved – This speaking tip is one in a series provided by iSpeakEASY. We help people profit from their words. Call for information on individual coaching or group workshops.
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