Presentations: Engage your Audience
Being an exceptional speaker is a wonderful skill, but sometimes even that skill does not engage the audience the way planned. Business speakers giving their “pitch” have limited minutes to gain the audience’s attention and hold it. Getting an audience interested and listening can be a struggle unless you put into practice some of the tried-and-true speaking tips from expert orators from all lines of businesses. Here are just a few strategies to get your audience not only listening but engaged in what you are saying.
- Speak Clearly and Simply. Viewers are guaranteed to tune you out if they are having trouble hearing you or following your terminology. Practice speaking and delivering your “pitch” to others who are not in your field of work to see if they can follow your line of thought and understand your terminology. Avoid acronyms if you are unsure the audience knows them.
- Eye Contact – Since elementary school, we all learned that if you look someone in the eye when you are speaking they will be more apt to listen and remember. The same is true for adults. Make eye contact with as many people as possible to ensure that they are listening and not checking Facebook or answering texts.
- Know Your Audience – This should go without saying to know the audience’s skills, needs, wants, interests and experiences before speaking. Some people prefer a pre- engagement questionnaire while others mingle with the group prior to the discussion. The better you know the audience the more you can tailor your talk to them.
- Ask Questions – Give the audience an opportunity to take part in the discussion by raising hands, writing or discussing with a neighbor. The more they connect with you and your topic, the more they will retain and engage as you continue.
- Give them Some Resources – Most people love getting something or learning something so, give them what they want. For example, if you are talking about a service, give them a coupon or access for a discount to try-out the service. If they are gathering information give them a list of resources that they may not have known about previously.
- Be Visual and Active – Using technology has long been a practice of speakers but be sure to have slides that are graphic in nature, not just slide-after-slide of text. And do not read from the text. They could do that later. Instead speak normally and in a conversational tone. Along with using visuals try to get your audience to move a little. If they have to speak to the person at their table or write, they may be more apt to be listening rather than be glazed over tuning you out.