Public Speaking: Using Names

June 12th, 2009 by Frank Damelio

hello-my-name-isFor those who are already comfortable with public speaking, here is an advanced trick to take it to the next level.

When you are performing an interactive presentation, you have an opportunity to impress by calling on audience members by name.  Very few things will wow an audience more.  Why?  Unless you are a familiar member of the group to which you are presenting, nobody expects you to use their names.  Most likely, every presenter that has preceded you has not used their names.  This makes you appear different and better.  It makes you seem smarter and more sincere.

This opportunity to wow the audience only presents itself in certain circumstances, but when it does, seize it and reap the rewards.

Ideal circumstances:  Smaller audience 10 – 50 members plus a chance to mingle before your presentation. Obviously if nobody is wearing the “hello my name is ….” tags, this will be far more effective.

Strategy:  Arrive either first or very early so you can set up and assess the room.  Now it’s easy to greet each person who arrives.  Make a mental note of their name, and every once in a while, look over to that person and repeat the name in your head.  Sometimes groups will arrive together, and you will be unable to greet each person individually.  That’s okay.  As you mill around, LISTEN to people talk.  You will hear their names.  These are your golden catches, because when you refer to those people by name in your interactive presentation, they will be AMAZED – sometimes telling the person next to them “we weren’t even introduced, and he knows who I am?”

When you finish your presentation, many people will approach you and ask whether you are naturally gifted with memory, or if you have a secret method to remember people’s names.  They will be fascinated by your ability, and they will want to know whether they can acquire the same.

I have an average memory, and in the right circumstances (when people trickle into the event, at an even pace, I can do this for up to 50 people.) Years later these people will approach me and remind me about how everyone was so impressed by this “gift”.

Granted, circumstances need to be right and it does take a great deal of mental effort up front, but if you really want to appear different and better, this advanced tip will do the trick.

Now, does anyone have a method for LONG-TERM memory with names? Please share.

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5 Responses to “Public Speaking: Using Names”

  1. Laura Briere Says:

    good advice – I use this once in a while, but not often enough!

  2. Sandy Says:

    I thought I wasnt going to like this blog but more I read the more I liked it.

  3. Frank Damelio Says:

    Very happy you ended up liking it! Thanks for the comment.

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  5. Target Intellect Blog » Public Speaking: Impress your audience. Says:

    [...] Q&A, you are golden.  I have already written about some great strategies to remembering names here  but I want to include a new technique I’ve been using that makes it even [...]

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