Giving a speech is not an easy task, especially if your audience isn’t interested in your talk. Keeping an audience’s attention is essential, and it can be difficult depending on the topic your speaking on. Before doing any speaking gig, you need to do some research on who your audience will be.
Along with research, you need to practice, practice and practice some more. Here are tips to give a speech people will pay attention to:
Be Yourself When Giving a Speech
Audiences can sense enthusiasm and are very perceptive. Be passionate about what you are speaking about. If the audience feels your passion, it ignites there interest, and they pay attention. If you are reading off slides and show no emotions, you will lose your audience’s attention very quickly.
Speak About Something Your Audience is Interested In
If you are talking at a conference, people will choose your session because of the synopsis, and you need to make sure that you are talking about topics that are of interest to the audience, not necessarily yourself. If you aren’t talking about something that the audience is interested in, then you won’t have there attention, it’s that simple.
Engage Your Audience Early
Don’t wait for questions and answers at the end of your speech to get the audience to participate and pay attention. Engage them right away by asking questions that audience members can stand up and move around, instead of raising hands. Get them socializing with their neighbor or table to encourage participation.
People notice change, and you can use this human tendency to retrieve your audience’s attention. There are macro and micro changes that can be done during your presentation to keep your audience’s attention. As a guide, use macro-changes at least every ten minutes and continuously use micro-changes as your speech goes on.
- Macro -changes – change visual medium (i.e., slides to flipchart); get the audience to stand if they’ve been sitting; change the location of the room (i.e., focusing on the back of the room from the front); change topics
- Micro-changes – show a short video; using silence before and after essential statements; change your tone to match the content you are talking about, for example, if you are stating facts, use a measured, deliberate tone
Stories are compelling in speeches, and for keeping an audience’s attention. When you express, “I’ll tell you a story,” the audience is back to paying attention. Stories you tell should reinforce the point you are trying to make in your speech. Spread out the stories in your statement. Another way to keep attention is to arrange your presentation in a story structure.
Depending on the length of your presentation or speaking engagement, consider giving the audience a 1 to 2-minute break to use the washroom to refresh your drinks and stretch there legs. Letting the audience get up and move is an effective way to revive the people’s attention to your speech.
Look with Intention
It’s essential to move around the stage, but besides using the stage, you should use your whole body to get your message across and pay attention to the eyes of your audience, by maintaining eye contact with an audience member for a full thought. By doing this, you are engaging with the audience, but also paying attention to your audience lets you know if they are starting to lose concentration, and you can use one of the above techniques to gain their attention again.
Be informative, speak on subjects that are intended for your audience, add changes, offer breaks, and add personal stories to keep your audience’s attention.
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