Absorb the locale to connect with your audience


I'm in Harrogate, United Kingdom, to give a few talks. 

This picture is a snap shot of the Rudding Park hotel's cathedral.  I'll post more pictures in my Twitter stream.  The staff are helpful, friendly and really attuned to the wear and tear of coming from LA.  

A good speaker, according to Nick Morgan, is connected with his/her audience. Initially, I connect via a pre-event interview I conduct with meeting planners and stakeholders.  This helps me understand the emotional and business needs of the audience, so I can customize my talk and apply my research to the situation.  

Another important component, especially for far-away gigs, is to physically connect with the locale where you are speaking.  I've been to Europe several times over the last few years, and I've learned the hard way that when you fly all night (as you must from the USA), DO NOT take a nap when you arrive in Europe. Why?  You'll never adapt to the local clock and likely will be up all night before your big talk. 

So you need to "motor through" the day and go to sleep at 9 to 10pm local time. 

What to do to burn the time while you adjust (bleary eyed)?  Taste the locale by walking around. Take in the flora and fauna.  Visit the city centre and shop a little.  Talk to locals, business folk and the hotel staff.  

This strategy works for any trip you take to speak.  The more you get in the local groove, the more you can tailor your lexicon to be relevant and connected.  Besides, by making the effort to appreciate the unique attributes of your host city, you will gain some empathy.  

NOTE: If you are visiting a conference city like Orlando or Las Vegas, this doesn't apply as much. In those situations, make sure and attend any receptions the night before your speaking engagement and talk up the attendees — trying out some of your takeaways for feedback.  

Remember:  You give a speech to change the world (audience behavior).  As Dr. Stephen Covey wisely advised, "Seek first to understand, then to be understood."