Typically, being an engaging presenter will require you to hold an audience for an allocated period of time. While this task may seem straightforward, it is important to remember that even if someone is looking at you, they may not really be listening. Here are some tips to help you engage your audience’s attention more efficiently and ensure that what you have to say is actually being heard.
Whether it be a presentation for a product, service or an information session – people don’t want to know the intricacies of it. Everyone knows what a frying pan does, everyone knows why renewable energy is important – what they don’t know is how it affects them. It is important when giving a presentation that you never lose focus of your audience and how your content relates to them. What does it mean for your audience? What’s new? What pain points does your information address?
People often structure their speeches and presentations as a way making themselves feel prepared. If they know exactly what they’re going to say, they can’t mess up right? True, but over-structuring a talk can also mean that your content will seem to lack authenticity. If you’re flat and robotic in your presentation style – people will struggle to connect with it. Everyone hates feeling like they are being talked at. The key to achieving a conversational presentation style is by steering clear of jargon and formal attitudes. If you use too much exclusive language, your audience will feel like they are not being addressed and will lose interest immediately. Dropping academic language does not lessen what you are saying, it makes it more inclusive – which, when it comes to selling, is an incredibly positive thing.
Everyone loves a good story. Storytelling has been proven to be one of the best ways to engage an audience (just look at the opening segment of any TedTalk.) They are enjoyable, they follow a pattern and take us on a journey that we are compelled to hear the end of. Sharing a personal story will always connect you with an audience. It’s the beauty of vulnerability. Showing others that you’re human and opening up and giving the audience a chance to get to know you will make it easier for them to connect with you and what you’re saying. They also leave audiences in a state of susceptibility; listening to your ideas and concepts with their guards down. By putting your information into a real-life context, told through a story and supported by engaging visual content, the audience will not be able to turn away.
Rehearsing is the only sure-fire way to remain confident in your content as well as your delivery. In knowing what you are talking about and having a clear understanding of where your speech is going, you are able to deviate when necessary, engage in questions more easily, and always be able to return back to the topic.
Your audience will struggle to remember everything you say, that’s a given. But, if you make your main points memorable by tying them in with anecdotes, stories, videos and graphics, they will be left with the vital points of what you are trying to say. Just make sure you keep them short, use them only when strictly necessary and keep them relevant.
Try your best to get your audience involved and make them think. It is common practice to engage audiences by openly asking them questions. Often they involve a hand raise or a yes or no answer. However, if you ask them something like “what do you think America’s favorite fruit is?” as opposed to “who likes apples?” you’re giving them a chance to really think, rather than just engage.
The best speakers are never rushed, the human brain needs time to process new concepts and so by overloading your speech with too many new ideas, it becomes too much work and most people will switch off. Though, it is important to remember that while silence can be used for emphasis, speed can be used just as effectively to create momentum. The most effective speeches will follow a roller coaster type pattern involving speed, rhythm and a variation of content and emotion.
It sounds like a lot, but it’s fairly typical of any great performance to take you on a journey. They often start big, slow down, mix it up with story and fact, make you laugh, make you think, and above all entertain.