Engage Your Audience During Your Speech
Date: October 7, 2015
Engaging your audience is essential when delivering a speech. Everything you do is for your audience and not for you. Failing to connect with your listeners means they don’t understand your messages, and if you don’t grab their attention in the first few minutes of you being on stage, the presentation just won’t be a success.
Here are some tips to keeping your audience intrigued by your words every single time you step on stage.
Use Captivating Content
More than anything, your audience has to care about what you’re topic is on, which comes from having them in mind when you’re preparing the speech. People don’t always have the best attention span for long speeches, so keep yours concise. This doesn’t just mean the length of the entire speech, but the ideas that you talk about. Don’t go on about one thing for fifteen minutes, when you could keep it simple and sum it up in three minutes.
Keep the audience on their toes by adding in jokes, seriousness and stories. Be aware of the length of your sentences too, as short sentences mixed with longer ideas keep people more engaged. Don’t be that person who talks for hours and you don’t even remember any of what they said.
Demonstrate an understanding of your audience by talking about ideas they truly care about and are close to their heart. You have to be on the same page as them, or they won’t connect to you.
Interact With People
You don’t have to run into the audience and start hugging random people (in fact don’t do that), but definitely drop down the imaginary barrier that’s between you and them. During and at the end of the speech, ask questions and invite people to answer to encourage more interaction from individuals.
You can even organise group discussions at times during the speech to show you really do value their thoughts, and to make the night less about you and more about everyone in the room.
In the weeks running up to your speech, you can ask people to devise some questions and ideas on your chosen topic, so you can incorporate their problems and concerns into your presentation. Everyone likes to listen when someone is addressing a problem they care about.
Your Communication Should Be Clear
Don’t use words and key principles people don’t understand. Enunciate properly – check your microphone is working properly beforehand, or nobody will understand you during the presentation.
If you use handouts, presentation slides and any other communication method, make sure that even people at the back can hear and understand it. Keep your PowerPoint slides simple with few images and just use key words. If it’s in size 8 with long sentences, nobody will even bother to read it.
These extra tools should be that – an extra to your speech, not a key feature. Nobody wants to see you reading a script off of the laptop because you haven’t prepared yourself properly.
…Not physically with the audience. People like others who open up about their lives, and tell them secrets and fascinating facts about themselves. If you’re there to tell a tale about someone else’s life, don’t expect huge engagement.
You have to give your audience something they aren’t expecting. Open up to them and allow them in. Show them who you really are. Be honest and authentic. Although the speech shouldn’t be me me me, personal stories and experiences show you’re a ‘real’ person with emotions and a past.
Always bare your audience in mind with your speeches. Don’t change yourself to make them like you, but use the key points above to think about what they’re expecting from you. Think about when you go to a presentation, or show. No matter what it is, you expect some interaction and acknowledgment of your presence. It’s the same with public speaking; your audience are number one. Remember that.