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They are there for the experience. They want to be educated, entertained and they want to participate.
The whole point of a presentation or public speaking engagement is to engage the audience by sharing your knowledge, expertise, or experience, right? But an audience member only pays attention to things they care about.
This year a study pegged the average human attention span at eight seconds, which is down from 12 seconds ten years ago. To put that into perspective, the attention span of the average goldfish is nine seconds.
So how do you grab your audience’s attention in 8 seconds? Scream? Faint? Cartwheel? Nope. You need to build a relationship with them and here are a few ways you can do just that.
Bring your own personality!
The best way to grab their attention and begin to build a relationship with them – so they care enough to listen – is to be your authentic self. If you aren’t your whole, true, authentic self, you don’t come across as interesting, likeable, or (gasp!) fun.
Some people believe that being “professional” means that you have to be serious and somber. It doesn’t.
Being someone other than yourself doesn’t make you more professional. Every job has different standards and everyone has a different definition of what it is to be professional but there is one thing that all professionals share. They’re human. (Ever heard of a professional fish?)
Sharing whatever it is that makes you interesting and human is your advantage in public speaking or pitches to your prospective clients.
In addition to gathering information about the organization, find out to WHOM you are speaking. (Yes, I said whom. ‘Cause I’m fancy like that.)
That mass of faces staring at you is made up of individuals. Look them up on LinkedIn. Google them. Follow them on Twitter. The interwebs are your best friend, my friend.
When you know something about a person or organization you aren’t talking to a bunch of eyeballs, you are talking to people. Do they fish? Support a charity that you support? Live near you or someone you know? Find out and Viola! You’re all people in a room together relating to each other like…people!
Instead of showing up five minutes before you’re scheduled to speak and disappearing as soon as you’re done, try hanging out and mingling.
The very next time you do a presentation or speak to a group: BYOP, research and mingle! If you don’t you’ll have to fish for their attention.