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Sandra Lawes MBA DipM DTM
Public Speaking Coach

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How to captivate an audience – instantly

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How to captivate an audience – instantly

Sandra Lawes

From the moment you start to speak, you have just 60 seconds or 150 words MAXIMUM to either captivate your audience or switch them off. OK, so the figure varies from expert to expert, but whatever the exact number, that’s a tiny window of opportunity.

So make every syllable count  – don’t waste precious time introducing yourself, saying how pleased you are to be there, recounting your difficult journey or waffling about any other issue not likely to ‘wow’ your audience.

And remember, even before you reach the stage, every member of your audience is deciding whether you are worth listening to or whether maybe they will check their phone for messages or simply have a little doze! Before you can utter a single word, your clothes, your posture, your facial expression – every aspect of your presence will all be used ‘in evidence’ as they make up their minds about you and the value they believe you will provide.

So make that first impression really count, take control of the stage, ground yourself, look straight at your audience and smile. ………Then hit them with something truly amazing! A really effective way to galvanise your audience into ‘receptive‘ mode is to make them experience real feelings and emotions. For example

  • Announce an incredible (but true) statistic – especially if it’s one they could be part of – so they relate to it instantly
  • Ask a powerful rhetorical question or one that makes them respond actively
  • Make a bold or controversial statement directly related to their world
  • Produce a highly visible or unusual prop or visual aid (but perhaps not the squeaky rubber chicken for that serious board meeting)
  • Share a short personal story that illustrates your main point
  • Recite a pertinent quotation (especially by someone famous they can relate to)
  • Show a short but compelling video or stunning photograph

Practice your ‘opening’ until you are certain you can deliver it fluently and with impact. Then the stage is set for you to deliver a presentation or speech that will be memorable  - for all the right reasons!

Once you have mastered this first step, the next challenge is to maintain that rapt attention and make sure every member of your audience leaves the session with a positive energy. 

I will be covering this in a future post, but if you need help now, call me on 07939 541927