Imagine reading a book with no commas, no periods, and no paragraph breaks. It would be quite difficult – and boring too. Yet, that is how many people deliver a presentation: neverending sentences in a monotone, lifeless voice. No wonder the listeners’ minds wander off.
To keep people’s attention and get your point across, you need to vary your speech and add some spice. Here are some simple ways:
Power to the pause
Pausing is a vital skill for audience management. In fact, pausing is to listeners what punctuation is to readers. It helps them absorb your message and make sense of what you are saying.
Imagine your message in writing. When there should be a comma, pause for one second. When you see a period, pause for two seconds. When you see a new paragraph, pause for three seconds. And while you’re pausing, take the opportunity to breathe!
Help your audience pick up what is important by emphasizing the keywords in each sentence – as if they were written in bold.
You can emphasize key words by saying them louder, slower, or by enunciating them more clearly than the other words.
Think of your presentation as a piece of music. How can you make it more interesting through variations in rhythm, volume, and melody?
– Speak loudly to gain attention or create an impact. Then say some things softly to draw people in and make them listen carefully.
– Speak fast, then slow down to mark importance and create suspense.
– Vary the highs and the lows of your voice. Allow your voice to go up and down naturally, as in a face-to face conversation.
Next time you hear a good speaker, observe what they are doing to add spice to their speech – then try it yourself!