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How To Grab And Keep Audience Attention During A Presentation
One of the most important challenges for a presenter is to first capture and then maintain the attention of an audience. If the presenter cannot do this, the presentation may not be successful, no matter how valuable the content is. If a presenter waits his turn and subtly looks at the crowd before entering, the panic is likely to be overwhelming. This is a familiar feeling for many.
The audience may seem intimidated or agitated at first but there are ways to get and keep their attention. We must remember here that it is not enough to get their attention. We must keep their attention for the entire duration of our presentation. Many speakers try to get attention in many ways, for example by telling the latest joke or by making a bright entry. It gets attention but doesn’t establish relevance, so after some time people can get lost or fall away.
This type of attention grabbing, which is not actually related to the topic or theme of the presentation, can be effective in attracting the attention of the presenter for a moment, but people see these tricks and rarely remember the actual presentation or its message. for them. Jumping off a table or landing on stage from a helicopter will certainly capture the audience, but if your presentation isn’t as flamboyant and gripping the impact will quickly wear off.
Here are some of the most commonly used techniques for successfully getting and keeping an audience’s attention.
1. Ask questions.
You can ask a rhetorical question or something that engages everyone by making him think about the topic.
- How many of you in this room hate filling out tax returns?
- How many of you drive a German car?
- Are our competitors driving us out of the market?
You can wait a short time after the question to get some information about your audience, but don’t wait too long because audience members will feel stupid if no one knows the answer. Avoid open-ended questions and only ask questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no unless you are confident in the skillful use of such questions. When you ask common questions like “What is the purpose of life?” People may create an impression that your presentation is very ordinary.
2. State an impressive fact.
Start with a surprising, unusual or impressive fact that is connected to the theme of your presentation.
- We would be out of business in six months if we let our competitors run us over like this.
- Market demand has doubled in the last three years and our market share has increased by only 1%.
3. Tell a story.
Telling a personal story that is closely connected to the theme of your presentation is a good way to start. People usually like to hear personal stories, which don’t get too long or try to glorify the narrator too much.
“Dear colleagues, before I start I want to tell you a short story about how our service got its name. Don’t worry, it won’t take long“.
A Story from India
Three fish live in a pond. One is called Plan Ahead, the other is Think Fast, and the third is called Wait and See. One day they heard a fisherman say that he would cast his net in their pond the next day. Plan Ahead said, “I swam in the river tonight! Think Fast said, “I’m sure I’ll make a plan.” Wait and See lazily said, “I can’t even think about it now!” When the fisherman cast his nets, Plan Ahead was long gone. But Think Fast and Wait and See was caught! Think Fast quickly rolled up his stomach and pretended to be dead.”Oh, this fish is bad!” said the fisherman, and safely dropped him back into the water. But, Wait and See ended up in the fish market. So they said, “In times of danger, when the net is cast, plan ahead or plan to think fast!”
4. Cite a quote.
Quotes are widely used for presentations and they add a colorful touch to your personal style.
“A short saying often contains a lot of wisdom.“Sophocles (496 BC – 406 BC)
“No culture can survive, if it tries to be exclusive.”
Although they may be impressive, the quotes do not have much shock-value and can be quickly forgotten. So they should be supplemented with other methods of getting the attention of the audience. Also remember to use quotes sparingly. If you use too many quotes, people will start to think that you have nothing original to say because you are always borrowing other people’s sayings.
5. Tell a joke.
Jokes are great for relaxing the audience and setting a happy mood. Relaxed audiences tend to be more interactive. This may make the work of the presenters easier.
The joke should be appropriate. People have very different senses of humor and you have to be very careful with jokes. What may produce rolls of laughter from one audience may cause stunned silence in another.
Experiment with the joke first with people you know to check how it works and if poor language skills get in the way of understanding the joke. It’s so embarrassing when you’re the only one who gets the joke and no one laughs for the right reason. Some jokes to avoid are sexual, religious, ethnic and political issues because people are very sensitive in these areas.
One thing to watch out for is the cultural relativity of humor. In many cultures, the locals joke about many things and everyone laughs, but once someone from another culture or head office abroad makes the same joke, it might not. it is a joke and can be a mockery of the culture.
6. Walk among the audience.
Presenters usually stay in the front area, near the laptop or the transparency projector. It creates a comfortable place for many people in the audience. Some brave presenters disturb this comfort zone of the audience by walking close or completely going to one side. Then the old instincts of people in their comfort zone start to wake them up. “The presenter is very close and he will ask me next time, so I better be alert“.
Attention grabbing skills are essential for establishing relevance with your audience. Most of the people in the audience are usually not in your mind or with you when you start speaking. Although they are physically there and trying to look interested, in reality, they are in their own worlds. They are thinking about work, planning the rest of their day, thinking about their own problem or just daydreaming. You have to bring them into your world and get them interested in your topic.
Attention grabbing skills are your tool for helping the audience learn your topic. These skills to grab the audience’s attention aren’t about your ego, you’re helping them listen. If you have something useful to say, and your audience feels that you are guiding them and helping them focus on your topic, they will appreciate it and reward you with eager attention and active participation. Then at the end you will feel the joy as they clap to show their appreciation.
The best place to keep a presentation is a prison; they now have a captive audience.
Enjoy your presentations!
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