There’s nothing more important to a speaker than engaging one’s audience, and good interaction can make the difference between a speech that people remember for the rest of their lives and one they forget before it’s even done. The key thing to remember is that interaction is based on grabbing and maintaining your audience’s attention. To that end, here are some tips for increasing interaction and maintaining attention during your speech.
- Keep the houselights up. Obviously you don’t want to blind your audience with spotlights, but decently bright lights have been shown to increase alertness, whereas keeping your audience in a dark room causes their minds to wander and relax, until you start to hear snores instead of applauses.
- Walk up and down the aisles. This technique has a few advantages for maintaining audience attention. This first is that people will naturally focus more on a moving stimulus than a stationary one. The second is that it makes audience participation much easier than simply speaking to them from up on the stage — people are much more likely to comfortably talk to someone who is right next to them than fifty feet away. Finally, walking around the audience area allows them to subtly connect with you as a person rather than just an object on a stage.
- Keep up your energy level. It’s a simple fact that if you can’t maintain enthusiasm for your speech, neither will your audience. Truly the simplest way to connect with your audience is to be genuinely excited about what your saying. People respond to emotional cues on a much deeper level than verbal ones, so the key is to be genuine and exciting. If you’re sincere about your enthusiasm, your audience will be too.