Surveying a group of CEOs is much like trying to catch lightning in a bottle. Fortunately, after some arm twisting, I was able to get 25 CEOs to complete a public speaking survey. The purpose of the survey was to uncover their most pressing public speaking frustrations. I’ll go ahead and let the cat out of the bag, their number one frustration is figuring out how to hold their audience’s attention. Considering the notoriously short attention spans and extremely high expectations of today’s audiences, it’s no surprise executives struggle to keep their attention. What if there was a way to hack an audience so you were guaranteed to connect with every audience, every time?
People are naturally curious. We are hardwired to explore and discover new things. What most speakers don’t realize is tapping into this human inclination is the secret to having their audience hang off their every word. As a speaker, your most fundamental responsibility is successfully guiding your audience through the “fog” of your expertise and bringing them out the other side smarter, happier or both. Take advantage of your audience’s predisposition for curiosity and adventure and prepare your next speech as if you were a tour guide. Take your listeners on an analytical journey from a red to a black balance sheet or perhaps an emotional journey from the basement to the penthouse of morale. In either case, the most effective way to hold your audience’s attention is to use words as the vehicle to take them on a journey.
Here are six steps that will help prepare you to take your audience on a journey…
- Have a definite starting point.
- Establish a clear, sequential path.
- Tell a story and build anticipation along the way.
- Point out what’s most important or interesting.
- Provide progress reports.
- Have a definite ending point.
Once you perfect these six steps, let your audience take a turn at steering the journey. One thing is for sure, your speech will be just as memorable as that college road trip that you wish you could forget!
Dez Thornton is a Communications Coach who helps you say the right words in the right way when they matter most! For more information, e-mail me at email@example.com.