How you say things is just as — if not more — important than what you say during a presentation. Here are 10 tips on how to engage your audience with how you share your content.
1. Be yourself
You don’t need to imitate anyone else. “When you get to the point where you can get up there and be yourself,” says Featured Speaker Diane Conklin, “that’s when you’ll find that you do better. Because people love authentic people.”
If you want to inspire your audience, get inspired yourself first. Inspiration is contagious: when the audience sees you as a genuine and inspired person, they will echo that inspiration in themselves.
You will be a role model for them. And that goes for any message you want to convey. You need to believe it and live it yourself before the audience will buy into what you have to say.
2. Share your vision
Be inclusive – invite your audience to imagine what the future might hold for them — in detail — should they follow your vision. Lead them through it so they experience it rather than just hear you talk about it.
3. Keep your key messages as simple as possible
As the saying goes, a confused mind says no. If you want your audience to buy into your message, your vision, you need to be able to explain it in simple terms that are concrete and relatable. But don’t disrespect your audience by being too simple. Be punchy and feel free to repeat these messages at intervals to emphasize them.
4. Start with the point of view of your audience
What will be the likely state of mind of your audience when they arrive to hear your presentation? What are their expectations? What information and stories would be most useful for them? What is likely to keep their interest? What would they really like to take away? Place them first, then lead them.
5. Start your session with a hook
You want to grab your audience’s attention from the get to. So start off with something that will immediately engage their attention and provoke curiosity. Make it so the audience feels some suspense for what is coming up next.
6. Appeal to the different senses
Use a variety of visual, auditory and kinesthetic means to convey your message. Speaking and listening both involve the auditory senses so balance this with lots of visual and kinesthetic elements, as well. This doesn’t mean you have to use PowerPoint or other three-dimensional visual aids, it can be as simple as speaking with your body language to bring home a point.
7. Encourage interaction with the audience
A passive audience can be the death knell of your speech. So get them captivated and participating early on. For example, if you watch a good comedian, they engage with their audience. As well as the obvious laughter (itself a great way of interacting), they banter with individuals in the audience. You can easily invite people to call out questions or answers or ask for a show of hands.
8. Have tricks up your sleeve
Even the best speakers will find an audience’s attention flag at times. Often this is because of the time of day. So come prepared with a story or anecdote, or a form of interaction to wake them up if you feel engagement dropping off.
9. Use stories and metaphors
Storytelling is a brilliant way to explain the concepts you discuss and keep your audience engaged in what you are talking about. We’re wired for story, so stories perk up our ears and we are not only more likely to listen, but to absorb information, as well.
10. Be clear about what key messages you want the audience to take away
Use a simple phrase or mnemonic to make them memorable. If afterward a member of the audience is asked what they gained from your presentation, what do you want them to say? Start with this end in mind and build your presentation backward from there.