An "Audience Champion" is a person who knows the presenter and is willing to share an endorsement, and/or provide support and encouragement during the session.
A well connected "Audience Champion" can transfer his/her credibility and trustworthiness to the speaker. This "trust transfer" alleviates audience tension about your expertise as the presenter and can help to open a "channel" for your message. When it comes to your conclusions, recommendations and your call to action, reinforcement provided by your champion can offer tremendous leverage in moving the group.
In advance of your session, identify one or two individuals that believe in you, or strongly support the product or concept that you are talking about.
Call or meet with your candidates to see if they would say a few words on your behalf, or in support of the message you are going to convey.
While their words should not be literally "scripted", work out bullet points with them ahead of time so that you'll both know what they are going to say. Let them know about when, in your session, you may be calling on them.
Especially in audiences that you don't know extremely well, use of an audience champion can get you past a critical "credibility checkpoint", and open minds to what you have to say and message you are trying to deliver.
In addition to basic receptivity, skilled use of the audience champion sets up a much easier "close", wherein people will be open to what your call to action is suggesting.
Before your next presentation, think about who will be attending and which person(s) might be especially helpful to you as an "Audience Champion".
Plan ahead to contact candidates and get their agreement to support you. Work out the words that you are both comfortable with, and be careful not to go overboard with glowing comments. The rest of the audience can spot a "shill" a mile away.
Tony Jeary – Mr. PresentationTM - is the author of 7 books on the subject of presentation, including Inspire Any Audience and The Complete Guide to Effective Facilitation. For more information about Tony or to order his products and save 20-40% go to www.yoursuccessstore.com.