How will you hook your audience – get their attention – make them focus on you and your speech? Anecdote? Dramatic statement? Question? Personal experience? Make your choice on the basis of: the composition of your audience, the theme of your presentation, and its length, and what you hope to achieve with it, and then apply all of your confidence and practice to making it effective.
Your audience knows whether you are speaking to them, or just presenting information. They will either feel the connection or tune out very quickly. With any conversation, whether it be informal or a formally presented speech or something in between, you keep that conversation going by choosing things to talk about that interest the other person, get them responding. So you need to know what interests your audience, what they will respond to.
This is what underlies the construction of most of your content.
It is the reason to talk about the benefits of a product instead of the features.
It is the reason to use language the audience understands. Look at your technical terms, and any jargon that they may not understand. Use examples, stories, quotes and other support material that has relevance to their lives and their interests. You will keep their attention and their interest.
And if your presentation has been advertised in media or in a conference program, the material in that advertising is what drew people to your session, so try to stick to it, or they will disengage very quickly.
So research you audience before you create your presentation if you can.
Find out as much as you can – their age range, gender, income levels, dreams, needs, wants, culture.
You can gain much from a registration form.
You can ask the event manager.
In your preparation routine, you can mingle with them before your speech.
Then you can use that information in constructing your speech. If you need to persuade, for example, you can use your knowledge of their interests and dreams.
You will choose language that they understand, and that is not irritating or offensive to them, and subject matter to suit that audience – themes, supports, anecdotes all will be tailored to them. Find out how best to dress, speak and what will meet their needs, or solve their problems and you have the first step to keeping their attention.
(c) Bronwyn Ritchie
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Bronwyn Ritchie is a professional librarian. writer. award-winning speaker and trainer. She is a certified corporate trainer and speech contest judge with POWERtalk, a certified World Class Speaking coach, and has had 30 years experience speaking to audiences and training in public speaking. In just 6 months time, you could be well on the way to being confident, admired, successful, rehired. Click here for 30 speaking tips FREE. Join now or go to http://www.30speakingtips.com
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You can avoid losing your audience by being sparing with dates, figures and statistics.
These are all very powerful ways to support your points, but overuse them and they just become boring, and your audience will turn off.
If data is absolutely necessary, use your slides to create a visual rendition of it.
Tell stories about it.
Find some way to relate it to your audience – percentages of people like them, for example, or of their country.
Visuals can provide you with powerful support in your speeches and presentations … if you let them.
If you allow it, visuals are a wonderful way of keeping attention, because they add another element of variety and change.
If that attention, however, is aimed more at how you are dealing with an object or if it is more on the object itself than on your message, then it has failed in its duty. If the PowerPoint slides are more interesting in themselves than what you are saying about them, then they have failed in their duty.
These visuals have to be used to support, not detract from, you and what you are saying.
You need to prepare, for this to happen. Think about how you will use them in terms of your own physical presence and stage design. It is you and your message that the attention needs to be aimed at.
Practise how you will handle your objects, how you will display them so that the process is seamless and amplifies your message – at all times. Turn off the screen if you want the attention to be on you. Keep the slides simple if you want people to listen to what you say rather then read what is written. Design your presentation so that the visual aids are just that – aids – and they can be a powerful source of attention and engagement.
If you allow it, visuals can also work as a powerful multiplier of the impact of the words you use. Your audience’s brains are tuned in to pictures and images. So an image will multiply the point and the message that the words deliver (“a picture paints a thousand words”), and will reinforce what your audience is hearing as they look.
Keep the slides simple with as little text as possible to allow the images to do their work.
You will certainly lose engagement if your audience thinks you are treating them as stupid – needing you to read to them something they can read for themselves.
You just need to remember that the image needs to support the message of your words, so choose it wisely.
Choose, too, where and when in your presentation to use visuals so they will create their most impact and support.
Choose them, too, so that your audience relates to them, so that they support your credibility and support your authenticity and support your brand.
Visuals really can do all of that – build credibility, authenticity and brand, build engagement and maintain audience attention. If you plan, prepare and strategize their use they are powerful allies in your presentations.
© Bronwyn Ritchie … If you want to include this article in your publication, please do, but please include the following information with it: Bronwyn Ritchie is a professional librarian, writer, award-winning speaker and trainer. She is a certified corporate trainer and speech contest judge with POWERtalk, a certified World Class Speaking coach, and has had 30 years experience speaking to audiences and training in public speaking. Get her 30 speaking tips FREE and boost your public speaking mastery over 30 weeks. Join now or go to http://www.30speakingtips.com
Meet me in the coffee shop for a cuppa and join in the discussion. => http://bit.ly/W47hiy
This is a guest post from Jonathan Li.
He shares a simple technique to make ourselves more confident and natural.
Jonathan’s main target audience is youth, so this technique is especially useful and pertinent. I like his humour and enthusiasm for sharing his ideas. You are very welcome to put your comments on his video at the bottom of this post if you want to.
Jonathan Li is a School Presentation Coach who helps college and university students overcome fear, transform presentation skills and create their dream career. For more information, go now to speechxpress