Public speaking is famously one of the things that people are most scared of, quite often appearing above death in surveys on the subject.

At however, we love a bit of public speaking and have enthusiastically delivered talks on a whole host of subjects from marketing strategy, sales, internet marketing, social media and LinkedIn, and have even ventured into a little bit of commentary on the economic outlook.

Public speaking ranks at number three in our list of effective marketing initiatives for generating awareness, leads and customers. The logic is obvious, if you are given the opportunity to stand in front of a room full of business people and speak on a topic they expect that you are an expert on that subject, if you impress them with what you have to say and  your energy and your enthusiasm then it is only natural that they might want to work with you.

We have presented on presentation skills, with the help of some pupils from Durrington High School, and one of the key messages that we delivered is that if you are invited to speak you should grasp the opportunity with both hands and enjoy it.

The audience will want to learn something from your talk, will be willing you to do well and supporting you to do that.Except in the last twelve months we have been more focussed on the marketing training, project delivery and haven’t done quite so much speaking, but we are now back on the speaking circuit we are seeing an interesting development.

Audiences have got tough.

I am not sure if it is because the subjects that we are speaking on are less mature and more open to interpretation, LinkedIn is very popular for example, but can anyone claim to be an expert on a technology that is less than 10 years old?
I am not sure if it is something to do with the democratisation  of knowledge that we were talking about in last week’s social media definition. We all have access to a tsunami of information on every subject and are consequently more informed than we have ever been before.
I am not sure if it is because people are attending more talks and have had bad experiences of speakers and the whole selling from stage phenomenon.
I am not sure if it is something to do with our style, where we invite interaction and relish a challenge.

One colleague that I have discussed this with thinks that everyone has become interested in marketing, reading marketing books, watching YouTube videos, attending the talks – and what they are looking for now is the magic pill, the insider trick, or the golden nugget that will transform their efforts into piles of cash. Whilst we are happy to provide the nuggets, the most valuable advice that we offer is – find a way to make sure that this work gets done.

What I am not saying is that tough audiences are a bad thing, or that we are ungrateful for the opportunity. As I have said, we invite interaction and we are sure that audiences will take more value from our talks if we are challenged and stretched, and indeed our future talks will be better for it.

What I am interested to know is have audiences actually got tougher, or have we gone soft in the twelve months that we have been away?
Do they know that they are being so challenging?
What is it that they really want to know?
If they have got tougher, why is that?


If you speak or you attend talks and you have an opinion we would love to hear it in the comments.


Please let us know what you think