I speak 50+ times a year, sometimes for as long as 14 hours a day, 2 days in a row. When you spend a lot of time in-front of people, it is extremely important to keep their attention and keep them excited and engaged in your presentation. Whether you are a keynote speakers, doing a panel/breakout or presenting an idea to your boss, nothing is more frustrating than when the audience starts to fade and you feel the attention waning.
While there are many tools that you can use to drive engagement and interactions, there are also things that you can incorporate into your speaking style to keep people excited and interested.
Here are 5 ways to keep people interested:
1) Move around.
Don’t stay in one place – move around. If you notice the audience is starting to fade, walk through the audience. I always request a lavalier mic (or a hand held) so that I can easily move around the room. Just the movement creates variety.
2) Make eye-contact
I try to look around the audience and make eye contact with as many people as possible. When people feel like you are speaking directly to them they tend to pay more attention.
3) Add vocal and energy variety
One-level gets boring. I tend to be high energy, but it is actually LESS effective to constantly be high energy vs. varying your energy. I speak quickly and excitedly to make a point and other times lower my voice to make people really lean in and pay attention.
4) S-L-O-W D-O-W-N
Many speakers who really know they stuff talk to fast! It is hard to keep up with them. Slow. It. Down. This adds variety and makes people more interested in your key points. Use silence and slow down for emphasis.
5) Change it up – live demo, writing on a white board, using power point
Especially in my longer classes this is really important – keep people engaged by changing the medium you use to deliver content – don’t stick to slides. Go online and show them a live demo. Draw on a whiteboard or chart to visualize a point. Keep the medium fun and exciting. Also, when you do things on the fly it shows that you really know your stuff well enough to deviate from a script.