If you want to know how to engage your audience, you have to focus on what really matters.
Not necessarily what matters to you…what matters to your audience.[box type=”shadow”] Engagement starts with what your listener (your audience) is thinking.[/box]
You have to “take in” your listener, if you want to really engage. Are they agitated? Concerned? Closed off to new ideas? And what if you listener isn’t just one person – what if you’ve got an entire room, or an entire company, to address?
Engage in New Ways
A compelling conversation starts in a way that is unexpected, sometimes disarming.
Don’t feel like you have to start off with a joke. Or some comment about “how glad you are to be here” or some other time-waster. If you really have something to say, it’s best to get to it!
For your topic: what is it that people have not heard about the subject at hand? What insights can you offer that can change the conversation?
Good openers come from a place that says, “I recognize you. I recognize your concerns. I am a solutions provider that could have exactly what you need.”
How to Engage Your Audience: Recognition is the Key
Notice the words “could have”. Be careful about coming in too strong.
“I’ve got all the answers” is not captivating, because no one really does. You have promoted yourself to a suspicious status, if you claim too much too soon.
“I know what you need” is a bold statement, the verbal equivalent of kicking down the door. Even if you do have what someone needs, please knock first.
If you have a solution, prepare us to listen.
It’s not your job to judge the validity of your remarks (“they’re great” or “they stink” are both wrong, and it’s not your place to choose).
Concentrate instead on captivating your audience, not intimidating them. You have to focus on the delivery and on grabbing your audience’s attention. If you’ve got all the answers, your listener immediately thinks, “Why do you need me?” and then, “Why do I need to listen to you?” as they await your orders.
Instantly, you’ve lost your audience. Any intro that’s a version of “Here’s my way, there’s the highway” is a total turn off.
How to Captivate Your Audience: Get to the Important Stuff!
And remember to keep it brief.
“I believe that my 43-page treatise on the budgetary comparisons for the next five years, based on last week’s pro forma as modified by the finance department at our West Campus…”
You lost me before the first quotation mark.
Without a captivating opening, your message is over before you even start. You’ve got to have a “hook” – some sort of reason that connects your listener to your message. And speaking of a message…