How to Grab Your Audience & Keep Them Interested

April 20, 2012 by  

When addressing an audience you have only a few minutes to really grab their attention, therefore your greeting and opening element need to be engaging.  Once you have their attention you need to vary your presentation in a number of ways in order to keep them interested; as the human attention span can be very limited if you are not doing something fascinating.

Here are some key points to help you create and maintain audience involvement:
1. Smile: if you look happy, you are more likely to make your audience happy. Smiles are contagious! In addition, it will make you look more confident, at ease, and trustworthy. Finally, if you are having fun, so will your listeners.
2. Make direct eye contact with individuals in your audience. When you do this you make them feel as if you are speaking directly to them so they will feel connected to you. In addition, eye contact represents honesty, which will also be appreciated by your listeners.
3. Ask a question. Challenging your audience to consider an approach, idea or strategy is another engagement technique. This encourages thinking, always a good idea when attempting to create an environment conducive to retentive learning.
4. Tell a story. Everyone loves a good story….so if you have an interesting tale that illustrates a key issue you are about to develop, this would be a great way to spark interest not only from the beginning but even during the session.
5. Use your voice to your advantage….be animated, exude energy, modulate your volume and inflection.  Interject an occasional “pregnant” pause to emphasize a point and put your audience on the edge of their seats waiting for you to finish the thought.
6. Use appropriate language that suits your audience so that they will be able to appreciate and understand your message. If you talk over their heads or down to them it will be difficult to hold their attention.
7. Finally, end with a challenge, something provocative, another story, a poem perhaps that is relevant to your topic.  Summaries are also a beneficial ending style as it re-emphasized the key points you want to leave with your audience. Different types of presentations warrent different styles of endings….choose one that feels right for you.

The main thing to remember is to prepare well, practice a lot, and have fun!

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