Great Presentation Ideas: How to Captivate Your Audience

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If you want to know how to captivate your audience, you have to focus on what really matters. Not necessarily what matters to you…what matters to your audience.

(An excerpt from The NEW Elevator Pitch)

You have to “take in” your listener: Are they agitated? Concerned? Closed off to new ideas? You better find out, if you want to captivate their imagination for the next two minutes.

Create an Opening for Your Elevator Speech

The new elevator speech often starts in a way that is unexpected, sometimes disarming. And sometimes you have to start with an assumption about your audience. What’s the solution you can provide? What can you do for your audience – or, with their help?
Image of Chuck Norris

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 Captivate Your Audience:  Recognition is the Key to a Compelling Conversation

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…” Wow. 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…

What’s yours?

For more on making your story stand out, check out my latest book, The NEW Elevator Pitch. You can download the electronic version on your favorite e-tail site.

And, for my best presentation tips, why not download “Presentation Power” – a free one-hour audio file of my best advice, guaranteed to change the way you feel about your next presentation.  Overcome your fear, and get crystal-clear on how to deliver your message.  Click here for the link, or just visit

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