Have you ever noticed how effective some people are at capturing the attention of any audience? And doing it quickly from the word “go”? In this blog post we‘re going to talk about the different methods and strategies you can use to capture the attention of your audience and keep them engaged while you share your knowledge and expertise.
The first place to start is with your audience. One of the most common errors that inexperienced public speakers make is with this: they don’t take the time to get to know their audience and what keeps them up at night. For example, if you are presenting on a topic like social media to accountants versus college students, your content and delivery should be drastically different. Those who understand their audience will customize their content, making an instant connection that is truly meaningful.
When you speak the language of your audience, you are seen as credible. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen public speakers stand in front of an audience and give the same speech over and over again. This can be dry, uninteresting, and simple a waste of time for your audience. Take the time to get to know them and deliver material that has meaning.
The second step, after you’re speaking their language, is to engage them directly. There are a variety of ways you can do so: tell a story, present data, ask a question. Long gone are the days of traditional presentations. If you plan on standing in front of a group for 50 minutes and droning on about a particular topic, there’s a pretty high likelihood the audience won’t be engaged. Instead, you need to engage them directly with a compelling story, data that validates a point of view, or by asking questions they want answered. The direct approach can elevate your presentation and create instant engagement.
The third and final step is repetition. If you’ve done your homework and created a few opportunities to generate engagement (as noted above with regard to telling a story, using data, etc.), then it’s important to repeat the main points you want your audience to take away with them. By knowing and reinforcing just a few main points, you keep the audience focused on your desired outcome.
Engagement doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, some of the most engaging presenters are those who keep it simple – focusing on a few main points and reinforcing with interesting stories, facts, and information. This is essential when you consider just how to create a lasting interest in the information you have to offer.
Another common technique that I’ve used time and again is an effective entrance. If you’re really interested in creating excitement, start with music or some other type of entrance that’s “different”. By creating something that’s out of the ordinary, you can dramatically improve your chances of changing the mindset of those who will be listening to you. Most audience members expect the ordinary so you need to put the “purple cow” in front of the room.
Be strategic with your planning. The right time to experiment on an approach or with a story shouldn’t be for the first time in front of an audience. Rehearse and practice all aspects of your presentation before you set foot in front of your audience. Notice what works and what doesn’t with each speaking experience and build you list of effective engagement techniques.