By Caterina Rando, MA, MCC
6 Ways to Engage Your Audience to Be a Captivating Speaker Every Time
Many speakers put all their attention on crafting a great speech when in fact a big part of being an awesome presenter is your ability to connect with your audience. They will be more receptive to your message when you establish a personal connection with them.
Here are six points to keep in mind every time you present to effectively engage your audience.
Take in the Audience Before You Begin
Before you begin speaking, spend at least 5 seconds to focus on each member of the audience if they are a small enough group. For larger groups, slowly scan the room looking at random individuals in each area. Smile at the people you are looking at. Consciously remind yourself that you are here to serve your audience. Send them some love energy from your heart and feel their interest and support before you begin speaking. This is an essential point to consider especially if you want to become a public speaker to get clients. Remember, your audience is your client.
Keep Eye Contact
Making eye contact is good, but you have to go way beyond that—you have to keep eye contact. Everything you say is delivered not only to the ears but especially to the eyes of someone in the audience. Do not look at the floor when you walk across the room or stage, and do not keep talking if you look at your notes. Make sure everything you say is said while you are looking someone in the eyes. Although this takes practice, this is worth your time and attention as this is what separates captivating speakers from good speakers.
Breathe deeply and often; speak in short sentences so you don’t have to catch your breath and make awkward projections. Breathe from your diaphragm. Proper deep breathing grounds you in the moment and draws your listeners to you. My super tip (something I’m sure you will recognize if you have ever sat in my audience) is to ask the audience to take a deep breath and you take a deep breath with them. This is a unique interactive way to make them feel more connected with you.
You need time for your ideas to land and for the audience to reflect on and picture in their minds what you have just said. Do not be afraid of many moments of silence—in fact, embrace them. Pauses serve as a nonverbal underline that emphasizes your key points. Pausing makes the audience listen more and allows them to stay mentally with you.
Watch Your Pace
A speech is not a conversation, so it should not be delivered at the same pace as chatter. Untrained or inexperienced speakers often talk too fast. Their words get jumbled up, and it’s hard for the listener to get the meaning of what is being said. One way around this is to focus on speaking more slowly than you normally would in daily conversation. Slower pacing helps your audience understand you better, and it adds authority and credibility to your message.
Be Yourself, Only Better
Your physical energy, in your body and in your voice, is a big part of your being a captivating speaker. Turn up the volume on your personal energy. If you are normally a four on a scale of one to ten, make that a six in a small group and a ten in a very large group. Fill the entire room with your energy and be the best speaker you can be. If you are facilitating a speaker training, you have to be the best example for your audience.
Apply these tips next time you present, and you will find you are better received than before and the audience will be leaning forward in their seats to see what you come up with next.