Updated: May 9
The most effective Public Speakers have developed a unique set of skills that make them accessible to their audiences. Like all industries, Public Speakers usually have a niche audience. They may be generalists or they may be known an expert in a very specific area of their selected niche.
One of the most important Public Speaking skills you can develop is the ability to keep your audience hooked from the beginning right through to the end of your talk. You might be speaking to seasoned professionals or a roomful of complete novices, there are ways that you can capture their attention and hold it. In this article I share three key ways that you can do this and be taken seriously as a professional speaker.
The first way to hook any audience is to inspire curiosity. An easy way to do this is by making it clear from the outset that what you have is valuable to them. When they understand that they need what you have they will be ready and attentive to what you have to say.
It could be that you have a new perspective, a useful technique or tool, a fresh approach to a common problem or an idea that challenges the status quo. For example, starting your talk with a provocative question or a surprising statistic about a key problem they might come up against frequently will grab their attention more effectively than telling them your name, title and what you do. Then promise to show them how you can solve their problem.
The second way to engage any audience is to create excitement by showing them what’s possible. This means painting a vivid picture of the results they can achieve when they implement the ideas you're sharing. This could involve sharing your own success story, case studies of people or organisations who have implemented similar strategies or techniques, or a live demonstration of what’s possible. For example, if you're speaking to a group of entrepreneurs, you might share a case study of a successful startup that used your approach to overcome a major challenge that the majority of entrepreneurs face.
3. Motivate Action
Motivating your audience to take action is the third way to keep them engaged. A really effective way of doing this is to give them to do or use. This could be providing a practical tip, tools or methods that they can use straight away. For example, if you’re speaking to a group of musicians you might share a simple but effective marketing technique that they can use to get more music press coverage.
Of course, it’s important to appeal to the different learning strategies of the people in the room. Some speakers pride themselves on never using slides. It’s perfectly fine if you don’t believe that slides will enhance the learning experience for your audience however be mindful that you could be isolating the people who find it easier to take in information visually. Including music can help to break up longer talks for people who can only process small chunks of information at a time.
Regardless of your delivery choices, these three strategies work in any industry and for audiences at any level of experience. By inspiring curiosity, creating excitement, and motivating action, you can engage your audiences and keep them captivated and inspired throughout your presentation. So, the next time you're preparing to speak, keep these strategies in mind and watch as your audience becomes fully immersed in what you have to say.