How to Keep Your Audience's Attention

Learn how to keep your audience's attention from media coach TJ Walker in this Howcast public speaking video.

‘Oh, I’m sorry, were you speaking?’ Is this your audience member? How do you keep someone you’re speaking to engaged? How do you connect with your audience to keep them interested, because let’s face it, so many times we’ve been in audiences, the speaker’s droning on and on, if we’re not in the first row, what do we do?

‘I can kind of pay attention to that. Let me check my email, and oh, what’s this text from my friend.’ We know when we’re audience members and someone is boring, we zone out. And yet, somehow, miraculously, when we get up to speak, we think we’re different. Well, guess what? We’re not. You’ve got to focus on your audience. If you’re focused on your text or your little PowerPoint, here’s what your audience is going to focus on: their stuff. You’ve got to focus on them. And you’ve got to be watching them, at all times.

If someone has a quizzical look on their face, you need to say, ‘Hey, Jim, was I unclear on that part?’ Test them. Ask questions. Engage them. ‘Say, that happened to you in your own meeting last week, didn’t it?’ Reference something from an audience member. That will bring them back in.

Something else you can do, walk around the room. There’s no law saying, ‘You have to stand with both feet firmly planted behind a lector.’ That’s boring, and it creates a wall between you and your audience. So move around. Create a little unpredictability, and you’re going to be much, much better.They will be engaged.

Don’t be afraid to make a mistake every so often, just like I did when I mispronounced ‘unpredictable’. Don’t worry about being perfect. Worry about variety. Worry about differences. And most of all, be interesting. If your audience is zoned out, they didn’t fail, you did.

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