How To Engage Your Audience

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Learn how to keep your audience's attention. You will learn my effective presentation techniques for ways to engage your audience. Don't give another boring speech! Learn how to wow the audience so they give you a standing ovation. Wow the audience and be memorable.

I want you to think back to a time you had to listen to a super dull talk.  In fact, you probably don’t even remember it because it was that insufferable.

If you are the speaker, and you have the tendency of reading off an excel sheet or gluing your eyes to a note card, you should probably stick around for this one.

Just like you catch more bees with honey than with vinegar, you grab your audience’s attention with awesomeness. We want to give a WOW speech not an OW speech.

It almost seems obvious right?

A talk that’s given in a boring way is just a snooze-fest waiting to happen. 

Don’t put your audience to sleep by droning on and on and bombarding them with superfluous facts. 

Ok so the question then becomes: How do I captivate my audience not just at the beginning, but for the entirety of the talk?

Just as an aside: I made a video about attention-grabbing hooks. And that’s to reel the audience in…it’s important to start with a bang, but you also have to keep them engaged… throughout. 

Here are my steps for giving a spectacular WOW speech.

Answer the “So What”

You know what follows the so what…why should I care. 

Speak to the audience’s interests. To do this, you should know your audience. Are they a group of like-minded individuals? Are they from the same speech community? Do they work in a particular industry? Are they your teammates? Any info you have on your audience is vital.

This info will allow you to answer the “so what” question for them so they don’t find themselves asking it during your talk.

Give the audience a reason to care. Show them how it benefits them. Show them how you “Get” them. 

Describe a problem they struggle with and provide the solution.

They’ll be amazed and in awe that you’re inside their heads. 

Find the Fracas 

We love storytelling as humans. Listening and telling them. Take advantage of the fact that every story has a narrative arc, allowing the story to unfold. And what makes the story interesting the climax of the story? So talk about the Conflict … – tension – fracas!  That makes for an interesting talk. 

Bring your listeners on a roller coaster ride with you. They’ll be thrilled you did. 

Make it a Sensory Experience

Maybe you’re familiar with Howard Garner’s theory on Multiple Intelligences. Put simply, we know that everyone learns differently, processes sensory date differently, and retains information differently. So, there’s no one-size-fits all with sharing info and teaching a concept if you want everyone to follow you. 

So what should we do?Engage all 5 senses. 

The more descriptive language you use, the easier the audience will be able to paint a picture in their minds. The more likely they’ll understand the concept or abstract idea through visceral images. 

Sensory or descriptive language which appeals to our 5 senses can help educate, inform, persuade and entertain us. 

Here are some examples:

  • Fran turtled up in her house resorting only to his kitchen window for her daily sun exposure.
  • Jim has the posture of an aged man, his crooked neck forming a 90-degree angle with his shoulders.

Embrace the Magic of Metaphors

Metaphors and analogies are like magic. Like clockwork, they evoke a visceral image in your mind allowing you to grasp the subject or feeling so tangibly…as though you are experiencing it right then and there. 

Here are some examples: 

  • Fearing the stage is like eating a fried grasshopper: it's not going to hurt you but it sure is scary. 
  • Speaking too quickly is like over whipping your eggs. You get to the same place, but the outcome is not as good. 
  • Communicating across cultures is like building a bridge it allows ideas to travel across borders.

For this, I’d come up with your own!

Find ways of jump starting the audience’s imagination and have fun coming up with your own. Avoid clichés as the audience will not find them memorable and you don’t want to run the risk of them tuning out.

Spice it Up!

With your voice, I mean. Your voice is an instrument… so play it.

Don’t tune your audience out by speaking in a robotic and monotone voice. Ow to my ears.

Instead, alter the volume, speed, and tone in your voice. 

Spice it up with variation, humor, and a side note. That turns a speech that’s predictable to unpredictable. And that’s what we want. 

A technique that speech coaches like to use is called “salting” that’ when you ask a question that your audience wants to know the answer to and you address it at some point in your talk. 

Real Talk: Get real with them 

Sometimes, the speaker can appear intimidating to an audience. 

This can be because of your numerous successes and achievements or maybe you exude so much confidence that that coolness oozes from your pores. Whatever is the root of that intimidation does not really matter, but if the audience finds you intimidating, they’ll probably zone out and write you off as unapproachable and distant. 

One way of connecting with your audience is by giving some real talk. 

Reveal a story about a struggle or a snafu somewhere along on your path to success. This will allow the audience to relate to you because you are showing a vulnerable and human side to yourself. You are revealing something authentic and true to your essence. If you can crack a joke while dishing out the real talk, your audience will be even happier you made them laugh. 

Try to implement these strategies the next time you give a talk, present at your company’s conference or go out for lunch with your friends.

You’re ready to tackle any communication challenge today!

Happy Explearning 🐝