How To Capture And Hold An Audience’s Attention

To give an effective speech, you need to capture your audience's attention
To give an effective speech, you need to capture your audience’s attention
Image Credit: Evelyn Berg

If we can all agree that this giving of speeches stuff takes a lot of effort on our parts in order to share the importance of public speaking with our audience, then perhaps we should all try to agree on just exactly what our goal should be when we give a speech? In my opinion, an effective speech is one in which you are able to capture your audience’s attention and then hold on to it for the entire speech. I realize that this may sound like a good thing to do, but the real question that we are all facing now is just exactly how do you go about doing this?

Concrete Words Are What You Build A Speech On

One of the most important decisions that we need to make when we are creating a speech is to determine what impact we want to have on our audience. Are we going to be talking about something that will be happening way off in the future (global warming) or something that is happening right now (more funding for our schools)? If what we are talking about has not happened yet, then we can get away with using big, vague terms to attempt to inspire our audience. However, if what we are talking about requires immediate action on their part, then we will be better served by using concrete nouns and action verbs.

Our goal here is to help our audience picture what the future could look like if they were to take action to implement what we are talking about. This means that our words have to help them to create very vivid mental images of what this future could look like. In order to make this happen, you need to describe what you are talking about in such vivid detail that your audience will be able to clearly picture it. If you can make this happen, then it will be more powerful than the best slide that you could possibly present to them.

Humor Is Your Friend

We all like to laugh and our audiences like to laugh also. If we can work some humor into our next speech, then our audience will enjoy the speech more and they’ll start to pay attention because they believe that we’re going to make them laugh again. We do need to be careful because laughter is a two edged sword. There may be things that make us laugh that our audience won’t find funny.

The power of laughter comes from what it does to our audience. If we can find the right way to use humer, then it has the possibility to win your audience over. What we need to understand is that laughter is one way that we can use to allow our audience to come to know us. If we use humor in our speech then we’ll be able to connect with our audience via shared laughter.

It’s All About The Ending

It really does not matter how wonderful your speech was if you don’t have a good way of wrapping things up. We all need to understand that how we end our speech is what will form the final impression that our audience will take away from attending our speech. A weak ending will leave your audience with the overall impression that your speech, no matter how well done, was not a strong speech.

In order to make the end of your speech as strong as it can be, make sure that everyone knows that you are going to be wrapping things up by signaling to your audience that you are starting your closing. Your closing is where you are going to want to review the main points that you’ve covered during your speech so that they will be remembered. Don’t allow a Q&A session diminish the ending of your speech. Instead, handle questions shortly before the end of the speech and then take control once again and wrap things up. If it is at all possible, try to use a story at the end of the speech that shows the powerful impact of your message.

What All Of This Means For You

As long as we are going to go to the effort of creating a speech, we need to make sure that we’re not wasting our time. We want to both capture and hold our audience’s attention in order to share the benefits of public speaking. In order to do that, we’re going to have to make sure that we create a speech that will allow us to do this.

When we are trying to get our audience to take immediate action, we need to be sure to use concrete words and action verbs. In order to create a connection with our audience, we need to take the time to work some humor into our speech and make them laugh with us. How good of a speech that we give won’t matter if we don’t end on a strong note. We need to make sure that we don’t allow anything to interfere with how we wrap up our speech.

The good news is that it is possible to give a speech that will capture your audience’s attention. You just have to take the time and make sure that your speech contains all of the necessary elements that will be required in order to make this happen. Spend some time the next time you create a speech and make sure that you capture your audience with your speech.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: How much humor do you think that you can add to a speech before the humor starts to take away from the speech?

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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

If you want to be a good speaker, then you are going to have to deliver good speeches. Good speeches start by being writing well so that we can show people the importance of public speaking. I can only speak for myself, but I’ve never had any formal training in exactly how one should go about writing a speech. I think that I do it somewhere as a cross between writing a letter and jotting down some notes to myself. This might not be the secret to creating a memorable speech! So as speakers, if we want to improve our speaking ability it sure seems as though one way to make this happen would be to get better at writing speeches. But how?