We live in a world where people expect immediate gratification. They want to be engaged and entertained and they want it now. It is suggested that audiences tend to either engage or redirect their attention after just 30 seconds, so it is crucial that you capture your audience’s attention right away. As a presenter, your job is to captivate your audience and keep them engaged, but it has to be done right away. If you grab their attention right from the start, all you need to do after that is keep it. Here are a few public speaking tips to captivate your audience in those first few seconds.
Know Your Audience
First and foremost, you need to know your audience so you can develop a presentation that is aligned with their needs and wants. Identify what information your audience needs and from there, come up with ideas on how you can engage them.
Provocative Statements or Shocking Facts
Hooking an audience is an art form and the best speakers know how to do it so well. One of the best ways to do this is by starting out with a provocative statement or a shocking fact. Choose a statement that is relevant to your presentation and will be interesting to the audience. Here are a few examples:
- I am going to increase the lifespan of everyone here by seven minutes.
- I need to make a confession.
- Every second a piece of the rainforest as big as a football field is mowed down.
- Did you know that the average person falls asleep in 7 minutes?
Tell a Story
People love stories. Storytelling is one of the oldest and most powerful methods for introducing a presentation. It’s a great way to connect with the audience and show them that you are human. Personal stories help the audience get to know you and this helps to form trust. If you earn their trust, you’ll get their attention.
Ask a Question
Start by asking a question that the audience can answer in their head. You might even ask for a show of hands. Either way, you are getting the audience to participate right from the start and this will naturally get them to pay attention.
Make Them Laugh
One of the best ways to captivate an audience is to make them laugh. No, you don’t have to be a comedian to accomplish this. You simply need to use a real-life example that everyone can relate to and trigger the fun by feeling the moment and connecting with the audience. You can use images, quotes, video clips, props, or any other visuals that can also help you get a laugh out of people. Once you make them laugh, they will almost certainly continue paying attention.
Trigger Their Imagination
Another great way to captivate an audience is to ask them to imagine something. For example, “Imagine the sound of an explosion mid-air. Imagine a plane full of smoke. Imagine people screaming and clutching their seatbelts. Imagine what it was like to be me…sitting in seat 12 A.” You can bring the audience right into the speech by triggering their imagination and making them visualize a scene. This is a very effective way to capture interest.