When you give a speech, you want the audience to respond. You want them to be motivated to take some action to improve their lives in some way, and you probably want them to walk to the back of the room and buy your book or course or sign up for your next seminar. In order to get the desired results from your speech, you need to grab the audience’s attention right from the start and continue to engage them throughout your speech. Here are six ways to engage your audience while speaking.
1. Ask questions.
To get your audience used to responding to you, start off with a question right away. Make it something easy—a yes or no question to which the answer is obviously “yes.” Get them to raise their hands by raising yours first. Next time you ask a question, try to elicit a verbal response by adding “yes or no” to the end of your question.
2. Get volunteers to help you.
Pick volunteers out of the audience and ask them questions or have them do some sort of exercise to illustrate a point. If you are asking a question that requires some thought, recruit your volunteers before the presentation so they have time to think about their answers.
3. Conduct group activities.
Try to come up with some activities the group can participate in that will reinforce the point of your speech.
4. Lead a discussion.
If your subject matter lends itself to discussion, hosting an informal talk where you accept feedback from audience members can introduce some fresh perspectives into the session.
5. Host a Q & A at the end of your presentation.
Give your audience time to ask questions. This can help establish you as an expert because the audience will have a chance to surprise you with questions you haven’t specifically prepared for. Obviously, you must know your subject matter well if you are planning to do a Q & A.
6. Bring something to hand out.
Bring a workbook for attendees to take home with them, a test they can take to evaluate their skills, or some other type of handout to keep the engagement going after your speech is over. Make sure you bring more than you think you’ll need. You don’t want to run out.
By engaging the audience and building rapport with them, you will be more likely to get them on board with your message. This will increase their chances of getting something useful out of your speech, something they can act on when they return to their normal routines.
About the author: Bethanny Parker likes to write about finding success in business and life, and mastering the art of public speaking will serve you well in both. The de Burgh Group offers public speaking courses that will help you gain the skills and confidence you need to become an outstanding public speaker.