June 6, 2014 by Speakers' Spotlight
Seven Ways Speakers Can Enchant Their Audiences
Great speeches can change the world. Perhaps no one understands this better than Nick Morgan, one of North America’s top communication coaches. Regularly commissioned by leaders at the top of their fields―from political giants to CEO’s of Fortune 50 companies―to help them deliver their messages in the most compelling manner possible, Nick helps audiences understand the impact their words, delivery, and body language can have when presenting to an audience, whether in a boardroom capacity or in front of a crowd. Nick’s new book is Power Cues: The Subtle Science of Leading Groups, Persuading Others, and Maximizing Your Personal Impact. Below, he shares his tips for creating a successful speech:
How can you go beyond the usual efforts to create a successful presentation – and enchant the audience? What are the secrets to creating magic with a speech? Here are seven ways to take your speech beyond the ordinary. Some of these will be familiar to you, but I’m guessing that at least one will be fresh and help you find a new level of connection with your audiences.
1. Tell a story. Of course I tell stories, you’re thinking. And by that you probably mean you drop the occasional anecdote into your presentation. But do you make your whole speech a story? Think about the standard Hollywood three-act structure. Do you raise the ante a third of the way through your talk, and then again two-thirds of the way through? Do you introduce conflict and suspense? Do you keep the audience on tenterhooks until the final curtain? If you don’t, then you’re not yet using storytelling the way it should be used to create forward momentum and suspense in a speech.
2. Involve the audience. The sweetest sound just about anyone can hear is the sound of their own name. So bring members of the audience in, as examples, testimonials, subjects, exemplars of excellence, and so on. Cite them, call them out, use them as heroes of your stories. You’ll have to do your homework to make this technique work, but the results will certainly justify the effort.
3. Bring the audience on stage. The most vivid and memorable form of audience involvement is to bring someone from the group onstage with you and get them doing something relevant and fun. This technique should always be voluntary or wired in advance – don’t just drag someone who’s unwilling on stage with you. And it’s easy enough if you make the ask to tell the difference between the enthusiastic and the terminally shy.
4. Engage the audience in a unique occurrence. There are few greater thrills for a rock audience then to hear a song for the first time, or to watch as the group brings someone famous on stage to jam with them, or the like. What’s the speaker equivalent? What can you do to give the audience something that’s one-of-a-kind?
5. Poll the audience; get their input. Audiences today expect to participate. So let them – in a real way – get their help on naming something, choosing something, or deciding something. It’s not fair to expect audiences to create something from scratch, on the fly, and have it be of high quality. So don’t ask them to come up with a name for something. But you can get them to pick a name from a list of several, and in aggregate, they will make good choices.
6. Enlist the audience’s help. Get the audience to sign up for your good cause. Get them to pledge to some worthwhile effort. Get them to commit to a goal. Get them to donate free time, free help, free work. Audiences love to be asked if you ask them in the right way, so don’t be shy. Engage them first, in the worthiness of the cause. Then enlist them in the effort.
7. Thank them. I believe that what the speaker shares with an audience is a gift, and so even the dullest speaker deserves appreciation. Similarly, the audience gives the speaker the gift of attention. So thank them when you’re done. Give them a code, a coupon, a discount, a present of some kind to show your appreciation. Say thank you, and mean it. And show that you mean it with a gift.
Every audience is an opportunity to create connection and community in ways that go beyond the usual handouts and slides. Stretch yourself as a speaker on your next outing and figure out something unique and involving for that particular audience. You’ll be glad – and your audience will be glad – that you did.