How to Successfully Engage Your Audience
By Mike Jones
Successful presentations require skill and hard work. Not everyone is a natural public speaker, but anyone can work at it. A good presentation is one that conquers your public. Here are several techniques that will help you engage your audience.
Know Your Audience
If you want to engage a crowd, the first rule is giving them something they need. No matter what subject you choose, somehow it has to add value to people’s life. The point is, you need to know who your audience is and what are their expectation.
Try to Create Their Profile
Before you meet your public, try to visualize it. No matter what kind of audience you will deal with, they surely all have something in common, at least the mere fact that they’ll gather to hear you. Think about their age, professional interest or personal preferences. Put it all on paper and complete a basic profile. Now that you know them better, it’s easier to picture yourself in front of them.
Write Down Your Speech
It Is Crucial to Have a Plan
Every professional out there does it: artists, politicians, top business people, they all write down their speech beforehand. A written plan helps you organize your thoughts in a logical order. It will be easier to remember what you are about to say. This is a great preparation mean especially if you usually feel nervous in front of the crowd. It will also help you anticipate the public’s reactions.
If you need help in drafting your plan, search for inspiration online. There are many smart content tools that will help you choose a topic and make your speech appealing.
Make It Logical
As soon as you start writing your speech, remember the main stages of any presentation:
It might seem redundant to highlight this steps, but many times people tend to ignore the main parts of a discourse. So don’t jump directly to the point and don’t rush to draw conclusions. Make a smooth transition between the three parts.
Another golden rule you should never forget is no divagation. You can’t engage your audience if you lose them along the way. Digression will make people lose their interest. They fill simply find it too difficult to follow your stream of thoughts.
People’s attention span is somewhere around 10 minutes. The rest is just passive listening, so don’t make those 10 minutes shorter.
Bottom line: stick to your topic. Yes, a joke works well every now and then. But don’t deviate from your plan too much.
Be Organized throughout Your Presentation
There are several factors you have to focus during your speech.
- One is sticking to the initial plan you had in mind. You will have to review it continuously in the background of your mind. Make a checklist for your presentation and mentally uncheck every stage you have completed. This way you’ll keep track of the remaining steps.
- Another key factor of any successful presentation is focusing on your public’s attitude. Try to figure out what reactions your speech triggers. Don’t let them lose their interest. If you think they’re bored, have a short break, switch your tone or make a joke. Somehow, you have to get them back
Make It Interactive
Focus on Your Public
In order to fully engage your audience in your speech, you have to make it all about them. Many presenters focus strictly on the content they deliver and ignore the audience. Although the primary purpose of your presentation is sending out a message, you should also make sure it actually gets there.
Ask Them to Participate
If you are not talking about the elixir of life or other fabulous topics that might mesmerize the crowd, chances are, they’ll disconnect at a certain point. How can you make them reconnect? Ask them to actively participate.
- Name volunteers: ask someone in the audience to step forward and take part in a live demonstration (this works particularly well when you promote a new product).
- Ask questions: turn your speech into a dialogue. It’s not all about you speaking and them listening. Ask them to share their opinions. Have a large brainstorming session.
- Play a game: this will definitely arouse their interest. Try to come up with a challenge. Ask your audience to find a solution, solve a mystery or play a short role game. Of course, this has to be integrated and correlated with the topic you’re discussing.
Pay Attention to Your Body
More than 50% of the messages we send out are actually conveyed by non-verbal means. Body language is essential in understanding a person’s attitude. Make sure your body doesn’t betray you during your speech.
You don’t have to be an expert in interpreting body language to figure out some basic signs like nervousness, boredom or uncertainty. All these emotions are naturally passed on through elements like posture, gestures, and mimic.
Try to bond with the public through nonverbal language: stand upright, come in front, but not too close, make relevant gestures (they will show your commitment to the topic).
This is one compulsory technique every effective presenter must know. If you don’t look your audience right in the eye, the message you communicate is that you are not involved. Eye contact connects you with the audience. However, make sure you share it with everyone. Looking only at some members of the public might seem improper or even odd.
One last thought before you get to work: add a personal touch to your presentation. People want to know the real you, not only the presenter. Slipping a personal detail or a short relevant experience will bring your audience closer and increase their interest.
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