An effective public speaker is surely an engaging speaker. Having or lacking audience engagement can make or break your goal as a person who delivers the message.
Whether you speak in a public arena as an influencer, in a religious setting as the church leader, in business for promotion, or in the field of education as an educator, making sure that you engage your audience is a vital part when you want a “call to action” to happen.
Becoming an engaging speaker is a real challenge in the art of public speaking. It takes practice and practical strategies. But being one is possible and fulfilling.
If you want to know how to become a sensational, engaging public speaker, here are some practical ways to help you during a live presentation.
An engaging speaker knows the audience
Before you start planning your speech, it is vital to consider the people who will receive your message. You need to find out in advance what your audience needs.
You should be aware of why they will attend and listen to what you are going to say. What makes them interested? What outcome or experience do they expect during and after the event?
Assess your participants first. You need to identify how much of your topic is already familiar to them. What experience do they have regarding your topic? How do they want to use the information after the event?
If possible, determine the audience’s relevant demographics like gender, age, occupation, and education. The information can be useful to consider as you prepare the overall plan of your live speech.
Tips to know your audience
You can do the following methods to gather some important information about your target audience.
- Do advance research
- Observe the target audience of your competitors
- Create a participant’s avatar
- Conduct surveys
- Monitor your audience engagement in your social media account or any previous works.
Craft an attention-grabbing introduction
If you want to become an engaging speaker, you need to capture your audience’s attention right at the beginning of your greeting introduction. You can do that by using an attention grabber technique.
Attention grabber usually comes in the form of a short interesting story, a question that triggers long term interest on the topic, a quiz that will make them ponder, or testimony where the audience can relate.
The first 30-60 seconds of your introduction is crucial in engaging your listeners. This is where your audience easily begins to make their judgment about you.
If they find no interest in what you said or did in the beginning, they will not listen to you with full intention until the end of your speech.
Build your credibility immediately. Your greeting can convince them to keep the good expectation about the event. If your enthusiasm makes them sense that you are engaging with them, chances are, they’ll feel excited to join and participate from start to finish.
An engaging speaker identifies the pain points
Pain points refer to the usual problems that your audience often experience. It can be their personal life, career, health, relationship, and business. You need to identify the pain point of the crowd so you can propose a possible solution.
And who doesn’t want to hear solutions for their problems? Everyone wants to solve something in their life, and they will listen to anyone whom they think can offer a solution to whatever they are dealing with.
That is human nature. If you want to grab the crowd’s attention immediately, using an attention grabber is the key. But if you want to hold their attention until the session ends, make sure to deliver a speech that will give solutions to their problems.
For instance, if you are a financial advisor and you are discussing different kinds of investments, you can present data, facts, or figures to claim that you yourself are an example of a successful investor and that you are an expert about investing.
There is nothing wrong with that. In fact, presenting those facts can also be helpful. But if your audience is clueless or struggling when it comes to their financial stability, their pain point and main concern are probably about knowing how to start saving in the first place so they could have money to use as an investment.
In this case, the discipline about saving money might also be useful to target.
Try to speak in response to your audience’s common concern. In this scenario, teach them how to practice the discipline of saving and later on discuss the benefits of investing their savings.
This arouses their desire for financial freedom and motivates them to take the action you intend for them to make.
Speak in a personal and conversational manner
An engaging speaker practices conversational presentations. It means maintaining a dialogue with the audience where they can respond freely without directly interrupting the flow of the discussion.
That is why public speakers often ask direct questions to a general audience while maintaining to sound personal in a way he delivers the question.
Keeping a conversational tone to engage also involves sharing a brief example or personal story that is relevant to the experience or interest of the listeners.
Conversational speech is not overly structured but delivers in a free-flowing manner. You need to sound casual here as if you are just talking or chatting to your friends. Dropping the jargon and preventing formal attitude is the key.
Your discourse will not become effective if you lose your audience by using language and terms unfamiliar to them. You need to create a space where everyone feels included in the conversation. Helping the audience to relate exclude dull moments.
Be clear on your goals
Every public presentation should have a clear goal. You need to define the goal behind gathering people no matter how small or big the invited audience is. Determine what you want for your audience to learn. What should be their take away? What action do you want them to make?
More than hearing their applause, an engaging speaker communicates to make an impact or influence people to take actions and achieve change.
Take, for example, if you speak about the benefits of having life insurance, you might need to educate your audience first regarding the advantages of having life insurance during a health crisis and inform them of the important considerations they must think before buying one.
If you impart knowledge, what for? To change a perspective? To promote an idea? You need to be clear on your whys.
Take time to involve your audience
If possible, depending on the amount of time you are allowed to speak, find ways to involve your audience. People learn more by actively doing things rather than passively listening to loads of information.
Prepare a particular activity that fits your topic. You may simply ask the participants to share their opinions with the person sitting next to them. This way you can create an opportunity for them to enjoy the brief discussion, avoid boredom, and meet new people.
You can also involve your audience through group activities and games. Just avoid repetition of the same activity.
Use slides, short video, and handouts
The audience tends to be more attentive when their hearing and seeing senses are stimulated by the tools a speaker uses during the presentation.
Rather than just talking from beginning to end, make an extra effort to present or elaborate some important points of your discussion by using materials such as handouts where the crowd can follow your flow.
You can also add some pages for notes in the manual so they can take note of important details. Using slides with pictures and short videos are also pleasant.
Give a few minutes of break
You might think that giving a few minutes of break somewhere in the middle of the session is irrelevant to the concerns of being an engaging speaker. If so, that is a common mistake.
No matter how interesting the flow of discussion, people’s attention will struggle if you speak continuously without a break because we have a short attention span most of the time.
Even without distractions, the mere tiredness our eyes could feel by just looking too long at a screen presentation from afar is already eye-straining. Giving a short break will help the crowd replenish their interest and physical vigor so they could focus more after that.
Some of them, including you, may be more comfortable going to the toilet or getting some drinks a few hours after the event started.
But the audience holds back when they do not want to escape any part of your speech. Allowing a break on the program schedule is also being sensitive to your audience’s comfort.
Practice before you face your audience
Practice makes perfect. The more you practice, the more you gain experience. And the more experience you get, the more confident you can be. Most speakers are not naturally experts. They just take time to prepare and rehearse their speech before facing their audience.
You need to rehearse in such a way that when you finally deliver your topic, the crowd will no longer notice your style and technique. They can only focus on what you are presenting.
Barbara Seymour Giordano, a communication strategist for StoryWorksLA.com once said,
“Giving a presentation is much like hosting your own late-night talk show,”
She gives emphasis on the importance of staying on topic and on time. Giordano claimed that the only way to do this is to stick on the script and practice. She said that standing with your laptop in front of you should be part of all your rehearsals.
As Giordano mentioned, the goal of this kind of practice is to have your slides in front of you, so it will prevent you from feeling the need to turn around and look at the screen behind you on presentation day.
Add some humor but stay cautious
One helpful practice in communication is finding the means to make your content entertaining. The technique is maintaining wholesome jokes when you mean to add a little yet amusing humor.
It is important not to offend anyone and avoid sounding awkward in the middle of your own talk. Using visual humor is found effective since we live in a world dominated by visuals.
Be early at the venue
Part of the goal to become an engaging speaker is to make sure you avoid being late. Being late will strip your credibility because you potentially be seen in haste and your audience might witness your lack of punctuality and preparations.
But being on time is not enough. You need to get ahead of time at least 30 minutes before the event starts, so you can prepare your materials based on the location and exact place you will speak and stand in a few hours.
Now you know the main practices of the engaging speakers. And let me summarize all the key points mentioned above by reminding you that great speakers have a few things in common.
They communicate reliable information. They prepare a well-planned and organized presentation. Lastly, these speakers have the ability to keep their audience’s attention and influence them to take the intended action.
Source: Your office coach