Recently, I posted one of my favorite short tips: Arrive early. Arriving early to lower the barriers may sound like common sense, but believe me, there are speakers who would rather do anything than lower barriers. When it comes to knowing how to speak well and how to consider your audience, there are contradictory schools of thought out there and some zealots with a different point of view.
True story. I was recently having dinner with attorneys at the end of the day of an annual convention. During dinner the topic moved on to public speaking. and one of the attorneys stated that he believed speakers should always hold themselves above their audience in order to be credible. He specifically said there should be distance and a certain amount of “I’m better than you” condescension by the speaker. I could not move him off this belief, despite his knowledge of my background (and his lack of public speaking expertise). Maybe it was because he was British and he was raised in a different culture. But whatever the reason, I was astonished to hear someone say something so blatantly wrong with such conviction, especially since his advice is simply disastrous.
Just to be clear: you do not want to hold yourself above your audience, nor to you want to be condescending. Unless you want them to disengage from you, in the same way that any of us put distance between ourselves and someone who is being patronizing. If that sounds like a good stratagem, go right ahead.