The average attention span of a literate adult is 20 minutes.
Good, you think to yourself. 20 minutes is plenty of time.
But how many speeches have you sat through where you fell asleep within the first two minutes?
And how afraid are you that people are going to do the same for yours?
It seems terribly obvious: unless you’re interesting, no one is going to pay attention. When you watch an episode of the O.C. or Gray’s Anatomy, you’re there to be entertained. You watch because the plot twists and the developing relationships on-screen are interesting. Not interesting? You switch the channel.
People may not have the luxury of turning off a speaker. But they can certainly turn off their own brains, and if you’re not careful, you’ll find most people snoozing in their chairs.
Find out your audience’s expectations, and do your best to break them. Does your audience expect you to be very formal? Take off your jacket and walk out from behind your podium. Does your audience expect you to be very serious? Be irreverent. Be self-deprecating.
One simple way to do this is to ask unexpected questions. It makes people think and also keeps them awake because it’s embarrassing to be singled out for sleeping.
5) Laugh! Never underestimate the power of humour. It’s been said to the death, but somehow people still don’t seem to get it. And they end up with dead audiences.
And I don’t mean just a humorous beginning or ending. Make sure you keep it up! It’s a pity if your audience doesn’t pay attention to the body of your speech.
6) Be visual. Okay, the above blog post advises that you ‘show a (half) naked woman’. But take that with a pinch of salt. It might not be appropriate, and you never know when you might have a dedicated, stone-throwing feminist in your audience.
Instead, you can be visual. It’s pretty much an undisputed fact that we remember images better than words. If you have a powerpoint presentation, make it visually striking. At the most basic level, it’s as simple as bolding words to make them stand out. At higher levels, you can add images or even videos.
7) If you’re stuck with words only, then use what fiction writers and poets have been using throughout the ages: metaphor, simile, and analogy. All these techniques are meant to call up images in the mind of the reader – or in your case, the listener – and help them retain your message better.
8) Tell stories. It may sound difficult but it’s not, because we do it all the time.
When you tell your friends about the time you were stuck in a traffic jam or about dealing with your horrible boss or about the time you tried so hard to get tickets to a concert, you’re essentially portraying the essence of life: conflict.
Tell your audience about a particular conflict you resolved. It endears you to them and also helps them empathize with you. Besides that, stories are simply far more memorable and interesting than a series of unconnected facts.
9) Start writing your speech early. A lot of people wait till the very last minute to start working on their presentation, which results in them being unconfident and boring. If you don’t craft your jokes and stories carefully first, you’ll end up telling them badly or not telling them at all.
10) Keep your role as a public speaker in mind, all the time. You can start keeping a folder of notes or materials to use in any speech.
If something interesting happens to you, write it down. If a friend tells you a good joke or if you happen to read a nice anecdote from a book or the Internet, write it down. You never know when it’ll come in handy.
Eric Feng is the go-to guy if you want to learn how to impress your customers, employers and investors through public speaking. Eric has successfully helped over 3000 people to become confident and compelling speakers. To watch FREE videos on how you can unleash the speaker in you and charm your audience in 8 simple steps, go to: http://www.TakingTheStageNow.com