Written By: Sandy Bjorgen, IMPROV-able Results ~
It’s easy to lose your audience. Unless they have a strong attachment to your stated topic and/or the group you’re representing. Even so, once you open your mouth, you can lose them if you don’t hit the ground running and grab their attention immediately with something unexpected – and interesting!
Imagine someone introduces you as the speaker and then leaves you up front to do your thing. (Note: this relates to a speech, not a training session).
Here are some ways to quickly turn them away with what you say:
- Your personal and company name – or, “For those of you who don’t know me, I’m --- from ---" [Already said.]
- Cutsy, hip, or meaningless phrases like “So, …” “Hey, what’s happenin’?” or “How are you doing?” [Pause to build suspense, engage them with eye contact, and start with an attention “hook” relevant to your points.”]
- “Sorry we’re getting a late start.” [Don’t remind them. Get on with it so they forget.]
- “I wish I’d had more time to prepare.” [Don’t lower expectations. Draw them with what you’ve got.]
- “Thanks for coming.” [They’ve chosen to come. Make them glad they did!]
- Apologizing for not having slides. [Always practice without slides so you learn to make the material come alive and use PowerPoint only with purpose - and so you aren’t thrown off if the power fails.]
- Reading a script – from your pages, device, screen. [Practice so you can form a talking-point outline in your head. Memorize any short quotes. If you need notes as a safety net, keep them as out-of-sight as you can. These things tend to restrict your movement and break eye-contact with the audience.]
- “Today, I’m going to tell you about….” [Spark curiosity and take them on an interesting journey to your message.]
These are good ways to come across as a novice, nervous, unprepared – which often happens with beginners.
If you want to learn to cut the meaningless chatter and sound like a pro: plan, prepare, practice, get feedback, rehearse.
Learn to get comfortable with silence. When tempted to lead with any of the above: pause, look around, build curiosity as you rehearse the next exciting and planned lines in your head, make eye contact, and then enjoy watching them hang on your every word!