Executive speech coach and award-winning keynote speaker Patricia Fripp was recently asked, “What is the best way to engage an audience?” This is the advice she gave the attendee at her San Francisco Speaking School:
“The best way to engage an audience is to be prepared, personable, polished, practical, and profound.
Know who you are speaking to: why are they there; what part of the agenda; what is the purpose of the meeting and expected outcomes of your contribution?
Is there a theme for the meeting?
What is the state of their industry?
What is the organization proud of?
What are their challenges?
What is a typical day in the life of the audience members?
Ahead of time, can you interview a few people who will be in the audience and find ‘sound bite’ quotes?
Before the event be responsive, easy to deal with, and meet all organizer’s deadlines.
During the event don’t demand, change the equipment requested, or act like a celebrity.
Before you speak meet, shake hands, chat with attendees, and be visible and involved for at least part of the meeting. You will be perceived as more interesting if you are interested. You engage your audience when it is obvious you have attempted to include THEM into the message.
Giving a presentation is not about being perfect as much as personable. However, you are expected to know your content and have practiced your presentation. Even if you use an outline, do not be so tied to your notes you have to read it. This kills all eye connection with the audience if you are looking down too much.
Be sure your information is interesting and has a logical application to the audience. Is it delivered at the right level of abstraction for the audience? No brilliant sounding ideas that are not specific enough to be useful?
Article by Patricia Fripp, CSP, CPAE