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How To Maintain the Audience’s Attention

By Dave Gilman

Did you know that many people who stand in front of a room are never heard by the audience? This is not because speakers aren’t projecting their voices loud enough, it is referring to the audience members who are simply tuned out or distracted. That is the topic of this speech tip: How to maintain the audience’s attention.

In order to connect with your audience and jar people out of their daydreams you need more than just a good speech. Some speakers make the mistake by thinking that because they have a well written speech it will maintain the attention of the audience. That is a mistake. Let’s face it, many people have short attention spans and wandering minds. It is strictly up to the speaker to not only gauge the audience’s level of response, but also to hold their attention as well.

There are three techniques that you can use to in order win back the attention of your audience. But before we go over that, it is important to understand the signs of a fading, bored, or distracted member or audience. You first have to take note of eye aversion, facial expression, and body language. Members who are not looking at you, or who have blank expressions staring off to space are most likely tuned out. Conversely members who are tuned in will have solid eye contact, their heads will turn with your movement, and their faces will light up. If you get down the level of micro-expressions you can actually see foreheads wrinkle.

Now that you know a few examples on how to spot the signs of the disconnected audience, I will outline three techniques that you can use to win back the attention of the room:

Number 1.) – Use a Power Phrase – One example is how the speech tip is opened with “Did you know…”. If you listen carefully you’ll hear this phrase used repeatedly in television ads. Some say that curiosity killed the cat, but as humans I believe we are just as curious, and this is why the phrase works so well, we want to know!

Number 2.) – Do you have any idea of what number 2 is? I will give you a hint: It’s what you just read? Encourage Audience Participation – Ask a question, ask for a show of hands, take a poll, or have people stand up to be counted. By encouraging participation, which can appear seemingly small, it can actually shift the energy of the entire room.

Number 3.) – Tell a Story. Simply by saying “Let me tell you a story” never fails to stir people. Stories connect with us at the deepest level and make emotional connections. No amount of data can add up to the impact that a story can make. Tell more of them.

The three techniques explained are by no means a complete list, but rather a few ideas to get you thinking on how you can add in various elements throughout your speech that will help you to connect with a disconnected or distracted audience. As a recap remember to:

Number 1.) – Use a Power Phrase
Number 2.) – Encourage Audience Participation
Number 3.) – Tell a Story

By adding in any one of these three techniques, more people who stand at the front of a room will be heard. Didn’t you know?

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