Even the best presenters lose your attention at times. Why? Because the brain works quickly and your mind begins to drift the moment something seems unimportant or uninteresting. Keeping your audience’s attention is arguably the most challenging part of presenting because audiences these days are more distracted than ever. You are competing with smartphones, emails, social media, and busy calendars so engaging an audience is no easy feat. You may have the most compelling facts and statistics to share but if you can’t keep your audience awake, all of your material will quickly be lost. It’s not enough to simply captivate your audience during your intro. You need to keep the momentum going throughout the entire presentation. Consider these tips for keeping your audience hooked from beginning to end.
Shock Them from the Start
When you are speaking to an audience, every second counts. That’s why you don’t need to waste those first moments telling them your name, your background, and why you are here. Instead, spark interest right off the bat by shocking them with a surprising statistic, an eye-opening fact, or an unusual visual. This will hook your audience and grab their attention and get you off to a great start.
Tell a Story
Humans naturally love stories because they entertain, inspire, and connect with our emotions. It is far more enjoyable to listen to someone tell a story than it is to hear them rattle off a list of facts. Look for ways to transform your information into stories using both real-life and invested examples. Weaving these narratives into your presentation will engage the audience and make your presentation feel more personal.
Use a Combination of Visuals and Speaking
No one wants to look at slide after slide. Likewise, it can be difficult for audiences to understand information that is all spoken. Using a combination of visuals and spoken word is an effective strategy for maintaining audience engagement. When you switch between visuals and speaking, it engages different parts of the brain which help your audience to remember more of what you are saying. Choose visuals that are interesting and relate to the topic and make sure to include a variety of visuals such as charts, graphs, video clips, photographs, and props.
Even the most serious topics could use a humorous break every now and then. If you can get your audience laughing or smiling, you will keep their attention firm. Don’t be afraid to infuse a little humor and tell some jokes. After all, laughter really is the best medicine.
Involve the Audience
If you want to engage your audience and hold their attention, you need to involve them in the presentation. Invite your audience to participate by asking them questions, taking a poll, or playing a game. Let them work to solve a puzzle or gather in small groups to discuss a problem. You might even invite a volunteer on stage for a demonstration. When you physically engage your audience, you will most certainly captivate and hold their attention.