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Guest Speaker: How to Engage an Audience

Posted by Jody Urquhart on Tue, Aug 21, 2012 @ 11:32 AM

motivational keynote speakerAs a motivational keynote speaker, I have the opportunity to hear a lot of other guest speakers deliver workshops at industry events. Some of them are good but many are dry and uninteresting, especially when their content is relevant to the audience but is poorly organized and the delivery is painful.

Here is my advice to a guest speaker to engage an audience through your delivery:

Most important:  Don't be Boring.

To motivate others, you need to spice up your speech delivery.

Think of a bad speech you have heard and remember the pain it caused. Now calculate the number of people in your next audience, multiply this by the number of minutes they will be listening to you; and you will recognize that being boring is not an option.

Remember that your message will not be communicated unless you have the attention of the audience.

To keep an audience's attention, consider two things:

  • Make the content interesting and relevant.
  • Deliver with energy and enthusiasm.

This blog will focus on speech delivery.

Many people want to be "real" when they give a motivational speech, so they dumb down their delivery. In real life they don't walk around and talk loudly, pause dramatically and gesture wildly, so they don't dare do that when they deliver a speech, either.

Fair enough. However, for a novice guest speaker, standing on stage is not everyday real life. Instead, it is a much more demanding form of communication. You need enough energy to move everyone in the room (or at least keep them awake).  You are not standing in an intimate circle of four people talking about the local preschool schedule.  You have a message to deliver!  You are on stage in front of a larger crowd, and your delivery needs to be larger, too!

A guest speaker needs to change his delivery to keep an audience's attention...

  • Speed up or slow down the pace - vary the pace
  • Talk louder (your words need to project to the back of the room)
  • Pause to emphasize a point - let it sink into the audiences's consciousness
  • Change your Pitch to guide the audience on an emotional journey

Body Language:

As a guest speaker, standing stiffly at the front of the room and clutching a podium will not inspire others. Instead, moving with purpose around the room and making eye contact with audience members will keep people awake (or at least make them wonder what you're doing). Gesture with purpose to emphasize key points.  You will find that if you engage your body in your presentation, you will appear more confident and you will feel more confident; you will feel more connected to your subject, your purpose, and your audience.

Eventually, this will feel natural and will give a lot more energy to your motivational speech.

Many motivational keynote speakers start out boring audiences, too.  They learn the basics eventually and after years of practice find the right formula that works for them.

Most importantly, don't take yourself too seriously and have fun. Your enthusiasm will be contagious.

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Tags: public speaking, guest speaker, motivational speech, motivational keynote speaker

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