Winning Over Your Audience

One of the basics of effective public speaking is to identify with your audience by referring to something that connects you with them. This might be a positive experience you had in their city previously, or a friend who hails from their town. But an even more effective way might be to mention something about their city, company, or community that they don’t even know.

For example, I made a less than positive remark to a friend about the city he had moved to when he left the Cincinnati area—the small city of Kokomo, Indiana, population 46,315.

I received an email from him recently in which he sought to enhance the image of the city in my mind by noting that it is known as the “city of firsts.”  He then proceeded to mention several of them:   the first canned tomato juice, the first push-button car radio, and the first all-transistor car radio.

There will usually be some piece of history or a certain trait of the town that few if any of the audience would know. With access to a wealth of information on any subject on the internet, you can quickly identify the community you are speaking in and a piece of information that will be likely to impress the audience with your understanding of your location.

Before the 1960s, my home town of Bedford, Indiana, was known as the “limestone capital of the world.” You may even have a building in your city made out of Bedford stone. Being a stonecutter is not as important as it once was, so even a citizen of that community might not know that impressive designation.

What are unique or little-known facts about your town? 

Steve Boyd
Steve Boyd
Stephen D. Boyd, Ph.D., CSP, is Professor Emeritus of Speech Communication, College of Informatics, Northern Kentucky University, near Cincinnati. Steve won the Toastmasters International Speech Contest in 1970 and was chosen Outstanding Professor of the Year at NKU in 1984, among other awards and honors. Since retiring, he volunteers with nonprofits, spends time with family, travels, preaches occasionally, and enjoys reading and writing. Contact Steve at (859) 866-5693 or at

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