Let’s face it. Your presentation is worth nothing if you don’t catch your audience’s attention. Getting to know your audience is definitely as important as the preparations you make, and coming up with strategies to connect with your audience should be a part of your research.
With that said, we’d like to give you a few tips on how to improve how you create connections with your audience as you deliver your speech.
1. Find opportunities for humor.
Humor is one of the best ways to get people to put down their guard and listen to you. It also lets people know that they can relax and have fun. Although most people would expect you to crack a joke to be funny, that’s not always the case. Sometimes you just have to be witty and entertaining to be humorous. Relax and lighten up, and don’t take yourself or your topic too seriously.
2. Send the right signals.
Make it easier for the crowd to trust you by smiling and making eye contact with your audience one at a time. This simple act shows that you are confident and a credible source of information. When your audience sees you scanning the room and making eye contact, it will likely invite them to engage and listen to what you have to say.
Use gestures to emphasize points, express emotions and also to release any tension you might be feeling. Stand tall, since audiences unknowingly judge you based on how you carry yourself. Your feet should point straight ahead, but make sure to control your movements. Too much can cause distraction and may annoy your audience.
3. Deliver jaw-dropping moments.
One way of grabbing your audience’s attention is what scientists call ‘emotionally competent stimuli. These are stories, images or anything that elicits a strong emotional response: joy, sadness, shock or surprise. Emotions help people remember better, so make sure to include these things in your presentation. Share stories that motivate, inspire and challenge their values. Show images that make them think. Use these stimuli to elicit a response from your audience and help them remember the message you’re delivering.
4. Stick to the 18 minute rule.
The world-famous TED conference swears by the 18 minute rule which according to its organizers is the key to its success. TED curator Chris Anderson explains that 18 minutes is long enough to be serious and short enough to hold people’s attention. The length of TED talks has had a great impact in how the content goes viral, and works very much like how Twitter forces people to be disciplined in what they write. This format also helps the speaker condense their message into what really matters most.
It was said that Napoleon Bonaparte would stay still for forty to fifty seconds before giving pep talks to his troops. Adolph Hitler would also pause and fidget with his notes for five minutes while people waited for him to start his speech. This is called the ‘power pause’ and has worked to the speaker’s advantage. Besides effectively catching the audience’s attention, power pauses also help listeners digest the information you provide and also highlight the important details in your presentation. Pauses also give you the time to breathe and receive and digest feedback from your audience.It also helps you think of what to say next, which will come in handy when you’re doing an extemporaneous speech.
6. End it strong
Craft a great call-to-action that will encourage and challenge your audience to apply what they have learned from your session.Make it clear and direct, and have your audience act on it quickly. Take the chance to leave a good impression with your audience and sum it up, focusing on the benefits they will get after the session. Use this chance to motivate your audience to work on personal goals and put the things they have learned to practice.
Herlene Somook is a creative entrepreneur based in Manila, Philippines. A graduate of AB Psychology, she was a Kumon Reading teacher for five years before jumping ship to the Business Process Outsourcing industry. She has been a digital nomad and freelance writer for a little over two years, and enjoys reading bedtime stories to her bouncing toddler.
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