How to Bring Your Audience Into Your Presentation

One of the best and easiest ways to bring your audience into your presentation is to ask a question. In doing so, they probably will raise their hands. They may also nod positively or shake their heads negatively. What is happening is that you are building a rapport with your listeners. This is a great way to keep their attention because you have involved them in your message. Essentially, you are establishing a bond.

In one of the presentations I give, I ask three questions in my opening remarks. Those three questions immediately interest my listeners because I hit a nerve. As one who teaches voice and presentation skills, I often speak on The Power of the Voice and ask them the following:

1. How many of you think that the image you project has an impact on your business life and/or your personal life?
2. How many of you had heard your voice on some form of recording equipment?
3. How many of you like what you hear?

While everyone agrees that image is important and while pretty much everyone has heard themselves on a camcorder, answering machine, or voice mail, most in the audience do not raise their hands with question #3. With those three questions, I immediately gain their attention, especially with the 3rd one, because most people are unaware that they have a better voice inside of them.

In discussing your topic, not only will questions involve them but so, too, will interesting stories and anecdotes because you are drawing on their emotions, their sympathies, their humor, their intellect, or whatever. They then share commonalities with you.

It is important to understand that public speaking is not a performance but is the art of communicating orally with an audience. The word of value in that last statement is the word with. Their reaction to you, their response to you, is the communication.

If they do not feel involved in your message, then there is no reason for you to speak or for them to attend. This is why it is important to talk to your audience and not at them. When you make eye contact with your listeners, they feel the connection. If you stare at just one person in the audience or at an object on the wall, for example, they will not feel the bond.

While the thrill (or dread) of speaking to an audience may be uppermost in your mind, the reality of public speaking is that you are there to share a message with those who have gone out of their way to hear you. Your job is to solve their problem and the best way to accomplish that task is to bring them into the fold.

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