Public speaking is among one of the largest fears of adults in the United States. Although this fear can be conquered, many people, even those who can speak with confidence, cannot for the life of them pique the interest of their audience. Other still say that their biggest confidence issue with public speaking is that they don't know what to say that will stir the minds of the crowd and get them involved.
These tips are meant to help you initially capture and retain your audience's attention, as well as make sure they understand the full extent of what you have to say.
Grab Their Attention
Your one and only focus in the introduction of your speech is to quickly do something that will get your audience interested in you and what you have to say. This can be a picture, short video clip, short story, a posed question, joke, quote, etc. Either way, do it fast. The worst thing you can do to start a speech is launch into a 10-minute tirade before you earned the minds of the crowd.
If you start off by getting people bored, they won't pay attention to the rest of your speech, even if it's very good. By that time everyone will be playing Angry Birds or whatever the hottest cell phone game is of the time. Therefore it's vital that the first thing you do is shock your audience into checking out whatever it is you have to say.
The primary mistake that many people make with public speaking is that they write a speech for themselves. Unless you're a famous person giving an autobiographical-like experience, chances are whatever you are asked to speak about is for the purpose of educating and helping other people.
This means you need to put yourself in the mind of an audience member. Think about the primary problems they are having that you can help solve. Then actually solve them. If you are able to get people listening to you to realize you are thinking about the same things they are, you will gain their trust, which means they will place great importance in your message.
Never forget this at any point throughout your writing--you exist only to help others and add value to them. Let's face: we as people are selfish. When we hear someone speak, we probably don't care too much about them or there story. We only want to understand what's in it for ourselves.
Another mistake that many people make with speaking is that they assume the entire crowd will immediately take everything they say at face value. This is not true. There are always going to be people that disagree with you, and you need to address it.
After making a particular point, think to yourself: what argument would someone who disagrees with you say? Immediately address that point next in your speech by saying something along the lines of "Someone may disagree and think that..."
By doing this, you just may persuade some people on the other side of the fence to believe you. Those who were in the middle or slightly skeptical about your message will be more likely to join your team. And the people who already like you and agree with you will feel that your message is even further strengthened by addressing that there are always two sides to any story. It is truly a win-win-win-win.
Relate to the Audience
This next part is all about your delivery: you need to truly care about your message and have passion in your voice. The quickest way to make a forgettable speech is to not look up from your speech, notes, or PowerPoint presentation, all the while reading word-for-word in a monotone voice.
Instead, have some cadence in your voice, and speak clearly and confidently. If you can't speak with confidence in your voice, your audience will distrust you. After all, if you don't truly believe what you're saying, why should they?
Furthermore, make eye contact with the crowd. This can be intimidating, especially if you don't have a lot of experience speaking in front of people. To practice, whenever you are talking with anyone, whether it be your friend, the bank teller, or your spouse, be sure to maintain good eye contact. It's a sign of trust.
When you're up in front of everybody, pick out a few different people in different sections of the crowd, and look at each person for a few seconds before flicking your eyes over to the next. This makes your speech and your message feel much more personal and individual. More than one person in the area you are looking at will believe you are looking "just at them", so you will make an impact on a large portion of the crowd.
End With a Call-to-Action
If you've done everything right up until this point, you have gained the attention and trust of your audience, persuaded people to your side, and acted personable. In order to truly create a moving speech though, you need a memorable conclusion, and the best way to do that is have a call-to-action.
This means you need to give the audience something to do that takes the experience they just had and pushes it outside of the room. Marketers, both online and in-person, use this trick all the time, and with great success. After all, you are much more likely to do something for someone you know and relate to rather than a complete stranger.
What your call-to-action is will depend entirely on the content (and perhaps more importantly, context) of your speech. Maybe have them buy or sign-up to something if this is business-related. Otherwise, a good "tried and true" call-to-action is to have each member of the audience complete an exercise of sorts. This could involve sharing what they've heard to someone else, which further extends the scope of your message.
Lastly, always remember that most people do not think logically, they think emotionally. Always keep this in the forefront of your brain while crafting what you have to say. People aren't moved by charts or figures, they are moved by stories and feelings, and that's what you need to focus on if you truly want to leave a lasting impression.