Giving a speech at a conference or event can be a tall order for most people. Standing up in front of dozens or even hundreds of people and delivering your presentation with confidence and presence is important, but making a merely competent speech into something memorable and engaging is much harder. But if you want people to really listen to what you’ve got to say then you’re going to have to try and get them engaged.
Fortunately you’re starting from a good place because you’ve been selected to give a talk based on your knowledge and expertise to people who on some level want to hear what you have to say. But being knowledgeable and imparting that knowledge in an interesting way are two different things. Here are some tips on how to make your speech or presentation engaging as well as informative.
• Keep It Informal. There’s no need to crack jokes all the time, but try not to lecture from behind a podium and hammer on from point to point. Try to make your speech more like a conversation, including the audience rather than bludgeoning them into submission. This will help people relax and be more receptive to what you’re saying.
• Mix It Up. If it’s appropriate then try punctuating your presentation with some kind of direct audience involvement. Why not try some kind of pair work or role play? Getting small group discussion with feedback can be a great way to ensure people are taking on board the information they’re being presented with. It’ll also make them feel like you want to hear what they have to say on the matter. It’s all about making it a two way conversation, not a one way lecture.
• Any Questions? It’s really important to offer people the chance to quiz you on things. They may want to clarify something you’ve touched on, or perhaps offer their own thoughts to get your feedback. Try and work in Q&A throughout the presentation, not just at the end. Often people will have something they want to ask but they may forget their point when given the chance to ask towards the end. By having several opportunities it also means that more people can get involved.
• Open The Floor. Seek feedback from the audience directly. Solicit their thoughts, experiences and opinions. This goes back to the community feeling you want to create which keeps people engaged.
Remember that people have a lot of things to distract them, so if you don’t hold their attention you might find them surreptitiously tweeting away, maybe about how boring the talk they’re trapped in is!
These useful tips have been provided by the good people at Meetings Four You.