Four ways to hook your audience during your next talk

Love to use public speaking as a marketing tool, but worried you’ll be boring? Read four ways to hook your audience during your next talk.

Public speaking can be a great way to spread the word about your product or service and to reach lots of potential customers in one fell swoop.

But the downside is that it can be scary. And one of those niggly fears that keeps coming up is that our speech will be boring and we won’t be able to engage our audience.

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Four ways to hook your audience during your next talk

Most people hate the idea of being judged and found wanting, so that’s often enough to put us off public speaking for good!

But there are some easy ways to engage our audiences so they listen attentively throughout the entire talk and take action at the end. Here are four from Shola Kaye, author of How to be a DIVA at Public Speaking.

1) Include a core promise in your speech title

Write a speech title that contains a core promise. For example: “Three easy ways to save money on your mortgage” or “Declutter your home FAST with these five top tips”.

Your audience needs a clear benefit from attending your talk, and you’ll be more likely to fill the venue and gain clients if you give them solid advice they can act upon. So make your titles specific and quantifiable so that everyone knows the value of attending your talk.

2) Have a provocative and exciting opening

The beginning of a talk is the best time to grab your audience’s attention. Don’t bore them with a long-winded introduction of who you are and why you’re there – there’s a time for telling the audience what’s to come, but first, engage them!

You only get a few moments to make a compelling first impression so make sure your opening packs a punch.

Some of the ways you can do this include:

  • Ask a rhetorical question that gets to the heart of your subject matter.
  • Cite a statistic that will shock the audience or make them think.
  • Show a compelling or evocative image.
  • Tell a short story that’s relevant to your subject matter.
  • Involve the audience with a demonstration of your product.
  • Ask the audience questions they can answer with hands up or called-out responses.

3) Deliver actionable value

Make sure you deliver some real value during your talk. Don’t hold the good stuff back for your paying customers. Show the audience that you mean business!

Give them great information they can use immediately, or share useful tips and tricks they’ll want to make note of and apply. That way, the next time they need the service you provide, you’ll be at the top of their list.

Your audience should be scrambling for a notebook and pen at some point during your talk because your content is too good to be forgotten. If this doesn’t happen, you need to revisit your speech and make sure the next one contains a few of your golden nuggets.

4) Tell relevant personal stories

We can be reluctant to tell personal stories for a number of reasons. For example, we want to keep things strictly business and think it’s not necessary to share who we are. Or perhaps we think that no-one is interested in our personal struggles and victories. Wrong!

You may have heard that people want to do business with those they know, like and trust. A personal story is one of the quickest ways to tick all three of those boxes. Here’s how:

  1. Be known – by sharing some personal details, we’re allowing ourselves to be known.
  2. Be liked – people like people who are like themselves. How will they know if you’re like them, unless you show them! So by telling a story that reveals some of your core values, or something about your background, or your motivation, you’re allowing your audience to like you.
  3. Be trusted – finally, via the law of reciprocity – I do for you and you do for me – if you trust your audience with your story they’re more likely to trust you in return; with their time and their business!

When telling stories, make sure you keep them relevant. Don’t waste valuable speech time by waffling on about irrelevant details. Each story should have a clear point.

Is the story there to create a connection? Maybe it’s to show your expertise? Or it could demonstrate your motivation behind building your business. Use a story framework to make sure you stay on track. (You can download a free storytelling guide here.)

The key to taking the fear out of public speaking is to remember you’re there to serve your audience so keep them engaged and interested during your next talk with these easy to implement tips.

Shola Kaye is the author of How to be a DIVA at Public Speaking. She runs public speaking training events in London for women in business and female entrepreneurs.