Public Speaking: Increasing Engagement

by | Mar 2, 2022 | Public Speaking

Picture this: You’re standing on a stage surrounded by thousands of people. This is your moment—one that you’ve worked hard to prepare for. You look out at the crowd and start speaking. You think it’s going well until … wait … is that person zoning out? And what are they doing on their phone? Are they sleeping!?  

It’s every public speaker’s worst nightmare: an unengaged audience. But good news! You can implement a few simple tactics to make sure that instead of falling asleep, people are actively engaged in what you have to say. Take some of our tips into consideration when preparing for your next presentation! 

A crowd of people faces in the same direction in a black and white photo.

Start strong.

It’s hard to be interested in a presentation or even a conversation when the first line is something like, “Hello, my name is so-and-so, and today I’m going to be talking about this.” Snooze-fest, am I right? That’s why it’s so important to start off with a snappy introduction! Here are some examples: 

If your audience isn’t engaged within the first few minutes, you may have a tough time getting them invested in the rest of what you have to say. A memorable hook is important, so spend some time perfecting it! 

Jumbled letters fly around in a circle against a blue sky.

Say goodbye to filler words.

How many times per day do you use the word, “um”? How about, “uh” or “like”? Most people use these words a lot! The truth is, they’re completely unnecessary. However, we’ve become so used to saying them that most of the time, we don’t even realize we’re doing it.  

During a presentation, when nerves are heightened, you’re probably even more likely to use these words than you normally would. They’re great placeholders while you think of your next idea to share, right? Wrong. The audience will pick up on your use of these words as you continue to speak … and then it’s a one-way ticket to boredom for everyone. Try out some of these tips on how to stay away from those pesky filler words as much as possible! 

A pencil lays on a blank notebook that sits on a wooden table.

Tell a story.

There’s nothing people love more than a good anecdote. Maybe you choose a story about yourself, or maybe you choose to tell one about someone else. The point is that if people are able to visualize what you’re saying, they’ll be more likely to remember and resonate with you and what you’re sharing.  

We know that not everyone is a natural storyteller. In fact, telling stories is somewhat of an art. Take a look at this example from a TED™ Talk by Jane McGonigal. She uses her personal story to draw the audience in before talking about the product she designed. And yes, the method is really effective.  

The next time you wake up in the middle of the night after having a public speaking nightmare, tell yourself to shake it off. You’ve now got some handy-dandy methods that will keep your audience engaged and coming back to hear you again and again!  

Now that your public speaking skills are up to par, let’s talk about the people you surround yourself with! Read this post for tips on building a strong inner circle.

Someone holds a paper airplane with the sun glaring in the background.
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