When we need to give a speech, we put so much time and effort into preparing for our preparation that the last thing we want is to put the audience to sleep with a boring talk. Boring talks are can be caused by both the content of the speech or the speaker’s presentation style — and often, both are to blame. So we’ll cover some easy ways to perk up your audience and make your speech more interesting.
1: Be excited about your speech.
People who are excited and passionate about their speech (as well as the subject of their speech) have an easier time connecting with the audience. Excitement and passion are both contagious and if people aren’t interested in your topic, your enthusiasm will often pique their interests enough for them to want to learn why they should be interested in your topic.
2: Interact with the audience.
Making the audience a part of your presentation will get them interested. Having them repeat back key points and phrases will help them retain what they’ve learned and if people aren’t paying attention, it’ll encourage them to do so. Plus it’s fun to have some audience involvement. Whenever I give a motivational speech, I get the audience out of their seats and have them move around. Tony Robbins has a great quote about this — “Emotion is created by motion.”
3: Use props.
Props are a great way to get your audience interested in your speech. They add visual impact and break up the monotony of an otherwise uneventful talk. Props can be used to demonstrate a point you’re trying to make, get the audience to laugh or to save you from having to describe an unfamiliar object in great detail. For example, if you’re telling a story about rock climbing and are talking about a carabiner, it’s easier to show one to the audience than having to spend two minutes describing it.
However, props can sometimes be a double edged sword because it’s easy to get carried away and use too many props. A good rule of thumb is to use no more than one prop per two minutes of your speech. Only use relevant props and if you find yourself trying to work a prop into your speech, then chances are that you should leave it out.
4: Vary your voice.
Speaking in a monotonous voice is an easy way to put your audience to sleep. Let your emotions show through in your speech. There is so much you can do with your voice:
- Speak faster to convey excitement and slow down when you want your audience to mull over a point you made.
- Pause to give the audience time to reflect on a thought.
- Imitate other people when quoting them.
- Vary your volume when appropriate.
Like props, be cautioned that there can be too much of a good thing and many speakers make the mistake of varying their voice too much — to the point where it sounds fake and/or obnoxious. Just be natural and don’t try to force it.
5: Make sure your speech is a good match for your audience.
Every speech is not appropriate for every audience. Make sure that your audience has the background to understand your speech (especially if there’s technical information in it) otherwise you’ll lose them immediately. Giving a speech about retirement planning to high school students would fall on deaf ears because few of them would understand payroll deductions, 401k plans and annuities.
You also want to ensure that your audience has an interest in learning more about your topic (note that this is different from being interested in your topic, although that would certainly help). If you’re selling a product that helps small businesses run more effectively, it wouldn’t make sense to give your presentation to people who work for large companies.