How to hold audience on the edge throughout your speech

Victor Ochieng' rolls out upskilling programmes in public speaking.

In the Secrets of Dynamic Communication, Ken Davies shares the sweet secret of preparing and delivering powerful speeches. He contends that communication does not take place until the speaker makes the audience develop a strong urge to surge and act. People with great gifts of the gab grab the minds of the audience through active involvement during public delivery. As a speaker, how can you attain this?

Involve the audience in planning the speech

As you prepare your speech, the audience should never be far from your mind. When you are preparing to speak, think about your audience. Ideally, public speaking is about the 3 Cs — content, context and clarity. Content is the body of the message. Context is all about delivery of relevant and appropriate content. When there is clarity, the audience can remember the content taught. To achieve this purpose, the speaker must think of age, stage, status, culture, education, and more, about the audience.

Involve the audience in thinking

Achieve it at the prefatory part. The best way to involve your audience in thinking is to provide them with the skeleton outline of your presentation. Pundits in public speaking argue that at the beginning, ‘tell them what you are going to tell them. Tell them. Then, tell them what you have just told them’.

A powerful preamble can provoke the audience to think beyond words and deeds.

Involve the audience in seeing what you are saying

Achieve this through use of visual aids to create a great impact on the audience. If possible, make good use of PowerPoint presentation. Also, involve your audience through appropriate use of paralinguistic features – verbal and non-verbal cues. In addition, great orators create mental pictures through appropriate use of imagery: similes, metaphors, personification, pathetic fallacy, hyperbole and vivid description of events.

Involve the audience vocally

Allow your audience to respond verbally. Let them repeat some striking statements of the message. Give them a little latitude to whisper to each other. Or to respond through wise use of sentence-completion pauses. Make your message poetic and memorable in nature. Obey the KISS Principle: Keep-It-Simple-Smart.

Involve the audience in writing

Package your presentation in a way that the audience can jot down some important points in their notebooks for future reflection and reference. This means that your presentation must be clear like crystal. Let there be coherence of good ideas. Present facts in a fantastic way.

Involve the audience through humour

One sage succinctly said: Humour is the shortest distance between people. When you are a person who can tickle others, you will find it easy to connect every dot while going lyrical. Sometimes people are not interested in what you are saying, but on how you are saying it. The same way, when you tickle people in your speech, you hold them captive.

You can use humour to hammer the truth. Occasionally, you can lace the speech with satire – telling the truth laughingly. Correct human weaknesses in an interesting manner.

However, you should use humour sparingly. Too much of it can make the speaker sound like a big fat joker. Therefore, use humour as an effective tool to enhance rather than distract people from the message. Just use it at regular intervals to grease the talk, bring out comic relief, break boredom, and loosen tension that seldom tightens.

Speakers who are limited in terms of relevant content hide behind humour. Yet this should not be the case. Humour benefits the mortal mind. There is excitement that causes the mind to be alive and agile through wise use of humour. Wise use of humour enables the speaker to get instant feedback from the audience. That is, when listeners grin, giggle, or even burst into peals of laughter. Mature sense of humour softens the heart. Humour can raise a dead audience. Nevertheless, never forget: Some humour may look stale, or sound offensive and vulgar. Therefore, be wise.

By Victor Ochieng’ 0704420232

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