HUGH CULVER

Giving a speech? Three sneaky ways to get your audience loving you.

Updated to Business, Speaking on January 23, 2023.

If you’ve ever delivered a seminar, presented on stage, or facilitated a meeting you know how hard it is to keep the attention of your audience. You have their full attention one minute, the next a cool wind is blowing through the meeting room.

Speaking louder might work once, but your goal should be to have them leaning in and interested, not shocked into paying attention.

Through many days of trial and error, I’ve discovered three ways that always work for getting your audience’s attention and getting them to love you.

1. TRAIN THEM

Woof, woof, yes you can train an audience. Let’s think what your goal is on stage. Your role, certainly as I’ve experienced it, is to get your audience to respond. They respond to your ideas, lessons, insights, jokes – everything (if they don’t you’re in trouble). You also want them to say “Yes” at the end – hopefully in the form of a standing ovation, or buying product – at the very least with a resounding applause your event planner can hear all the way to the reception desk.

The trick is to not wait until the end to find out if they will respond. Instead start early and start small. Have them turn to a partner for a dyad, stand-up to talk with a new partner, do an exercise that anchors a lesson, or write in your handouts. Train them early and you’ll enjoy the big reward at the end. Woof, woof.

2. SOCIAL PROOF

Here’s a tip right out of the must-read book Influence by Robert Cialdini – make them say yes. Stick with me here…..about half-way through and again just before your close, ask your audience “Is this valuable for you?” If you’re any good, the response should be an overwhelming “Yes!” – at least from 60% of the audience. That’s social proof.

Bingo! Your simple question, at just the right time, is all you need to have your audience convinced you’re the gem on the agenda.

Social proof happens when we believe something because the majority do. “We view a behavior as more correct in a given situation” says Cialdini, “to the degree that we see others performing it.” 

Bingo! Your simple question, at just the right time, is all you need to have your audience convinced you’re the gem on the agenda.  Even if only half convinced before, now they’re fully on board.

Q&A

3. HAVE FUN

There’s a line in the speaking industry: Q: Should you include humour in your speech? A: Only if you want to be invited back.

Q: Should you include humour in your speech? A: Only if you want to be invited back.

Let’s face it, it’s no fun to spend a day in an air conditioned conference centre, sitting all day, and eating hotel food. But you can bring some fun to your time on stage and you don’t have to be a comedian. Show a funny (relevant and short, please) video, tell a story where you goofed up, or share some strange and entertaining facts.

Today, I present a list of statistics about how busy we have become, it’s an interesting list, but, after all, it’s still statistics. So I insert the final bullet: “98% of all statistics are made up”. Anything that gets a good laugh, about every 10 minutes, will have them throwing money (or something).

Download the Instant Speech Template. You can use it immediately (this will save you hours of grief!).