GETTING every member of the audience to stay enraptured by your words when you are making a speech is no easy feat.
Some speakers are naturally charismatic and have no trouble capturing people's attention. But what about the other speakers who often put their listeners to sleep?
Here are ways in which you can keep your listeners glued to what you're saying:
Know what others want
When preparing to meet someone for the first time, you have to learn to be empathetic.
Think hard about the qualities that your audience, like clients, colleagues and senior management, is looking for. This helps you to better understand what you communicate to them is credible and worth their time.
Audiences look for tangible and intangible qualities such as good grooming and professionalism. So you should seek to validate their idea of who the "right" or "credible" presenter is.
Tangible qualities include professional and appropriate attire and the quality of presentation materials, such as handouts and slides.
Intangible qualities include your body language, knowledge, conscientiousness, orderliness, alertness, energy levels, tone and general likeability.
Both sets of qualities are essential for a meeting to be successful or making a presentation effective.
However, research has shown that many ineffective presenters focus primarily on the tangibles, often neglecting the intangibles. Effective professionals, on the other hand, focus primarily on the intangibles without neglecting the tangibles.
Start with a 'hook'
The introduction is an important phase of any presentation. Seasoned presenters know that they must first capture their audience's interest before being granted the latter's rapt attention.
Ask yourself "What's in it for me?". Is there a relevant and compelling reason the audience should give you their full attention? This is where the "hook" comes in.
Start with an interesting and appropriate fact or anecdote to grab your audience's attention and link it back to the objective of the presentation. Once you have captured their attention, you have also managed to gain credibility.
Make it engaging
Stay away from one-way presentations or monologues. This is made worse when an ineffective presenter reads off the overhead projector or his slides. This is sure to make people lose interest in whatever you say.
There are two reasons for this: People read faster than you can speak and people think faster than they can read.
When adults are not engaged, their minds tend to wander.
Make your presentation short and interactive by asking open questions. Not only are you appealing to the audience's sense of hearing but stimulating their intellect and emotions and making yourself memorable.
Close with action
Most ineffective presentations conclude without asking the audience to take action.
Experienced presenters understand that people quickly forget what they have heard, but remember what they have actively participated in.
Professionals ask for a decision or action from the audience during the end of the presentation. This is possibly the most important segment of a presentation because you are asking for an indication that your audience bought what you have offered them.
All you need to do is to make a request politely. Otherwise, the moment is lost.
Practise these pointers and you will leave a deep impression on others and see an improvement in your audience's response to you.