Wednesday, February 2, 2022

How to Engage and Capture Audience Attention

How to Engage and Capture Audience Attention

Since being officially back to work in Australia, I have had several inquiries regarding presentation skills training. It seems that public speaking has become a hot topic mainly in part due to the increased online activity most of us have been involved in over the past two years and of course it is a major requirement of personal branding and leadership success for executives and entrepreneurs.

Personal branding and leadership communication is about connecting emotionally. How do you connect with others through emotion? Is your communication and presentation style attracting, inspiring, supporting and influencing others? Can you portray authority and executive presence through clear, compelling, confident and concise communication?

I often attend networking events and conferences – mostly lately online. The most compelling speakers engage the audience with a succinct speech, speak from the heart and inject some light humour into their presentation.

Being able to inspire an audience through delivering a clear speech and engage through storytelling is a vital characteristic of personal branding and leadership presence. It is a skill that can and should be learned and practiced at every opportunity.

Although a number of budding presenters shy away from learning presentation skills due to nerves and lack of confidence, as quoted by Ralph Waldo Emerson, "All the great speakers were bad speakers at first."

Here are five presentation tips to help you shine and capture audience attention.

1. Be Succinct. Can you summarise what you have to say in a sentence?

Leading into your speech with a strong and compelling statement, statistic or anecdote on what you are talking about will spark interest and attention from you audience. If you take too long to get to the point whether it’s a speech, answer to a question or putting forward a business proposal, you risk losing the listeners’ attention. Say it simply.

2. Humour. The majority of presenters are not comedians and not expected to be. However, the most compelling speakers do inject some appropriate humour or light-hearted banter into their presentation.

Variety is what is required and can be built into your presentation through humour, use of props, audio-visuals, group exercises, audience involvement and storytelling. Try a range of techniques to keep your audience energised and interested.

3. Inspire with passion and enthusiasm for your topic.

Have a clear outcome in mind of what you want the audience to take away from your presentation. Remember it’s about them and how you make them feel. It could simply be that they feel comfortable with you to provide a particular service, or you’ve convinced them your product is the best on the market. It could be to motivate them to do something or inspire or challenge them to try something new.

4. Needs. What are the needs of the audience?

We might think about what we want to tell an audience, but what we really should consider is, what do they want to hear? Understanding your audience can help you deliver a presentation that is relevant to them.

Research the culture of the organisation. Ask, what are the interests of the audience? What are their roles, ages, genders and educational backgrounds? Find out if there is anything topical or controversial or how they will benefit from your presentation.

5. Environment. One of the keys to engage as a leader through presenting well is to look confident and comfortable in the environment.

Know the room and layout beforehand and if possible, rehearse in the room or walk around and on stage beforehand. Know the equipment you are working with such as laptop, slides, AV, mic, handouts and other props.

I hope these few tips inspire you to take action and learn to be a compelling presenter.

Learn more about Accomplished Presenter Brand to enhance your speaking and presentation skills.

Sue Currie is a speaker and the author of IMPRESSario, Present and Promote the Star Within You. She is passionate about helping business executives and entrepreneurial professionals elevate their personal brand, image and professional presence. Sue’s suite of services delivered through workshops, consulting, coaching and keynote presentations provides a multi-faceted approach to gain high transformation for her clients.

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