When you get up to speak, the clock starts ticking. In a matter of minutes, your audience will determine if your talk will be worth their time. That’s why a good opening is crucial. Once you’ve grabbed their attention, your next task is to keep it. Here are six proven ways to win your audience and accomplish the goals of your presentation:
- Be Insightful –“Meet my needs.” Every listener asks subconsciously, “What’s in it for me?” Give them a reason to find out: show them how to get something they want to steer clear of a risk and they will be all ears.
- Be Concise – “Don’t waste my time.” Everyone has a lot to do these days. When audiences believe the messages will be crisp and succinct, their minds will not be so quick to start checking their smart phones.
- Be Clear – “Be easy to follow.” Once the spoken message starts to ramble, attention span drops like a rock. Stay on target with every point. Use key words and signposting to keep the flow of progress.
- Be Engaging – “Talk to me, don’t read the slide.” The best presenters talk with audiences, much like a conversation. Even in a large auditorium, listeners appreciate a speaker who cares even more about them than simply reciting the information. It’s not “either/or”; it’s “both/and.” Audience engagement also comes through direct eye contact and a confident, conversational tone of voice. It’s good to smile once in awhile, too.
- Be Interesting – “Give brief examples.” Every few minutes, provide an example of some aspect of your message in operation. This helps people visualize what is happening or what could happen. The examples can be positive (to encourage) or negative (to warn) but they should be realistic and relate to possible implications of your message.
- Be Practical – “Tell me what to do next.” Always leave your audience with how they can put your insights into practice. You are the practical expert when you give them next steps.
Taking the time to win our audience is well worth the effort. Once you’ve won their attention, they will listen more carefully, remember more of your key points, appreciate your insights, respect your expertise, and (most of all) be more likely to put your applications into practice.