How to Get Your Live Audience to Listen & React

March 6, 2014 Updated: April 23, 2016


If you’re an entrepreneur or small business owner then you’ve probably heard how important speaking can be for your business. Speaking can not only help you access more people at once and increase your brand awareness but also make you stand out as an expert in your field and, on some occasions, increase sales.


However, as anyone who has spoken in public before knows, giving a speech that people will react to nay even remember is a hard act to pull off. In fact, recent studies by Statistic Brain, shows that the average person has a smaller attention span than a goldfish. That means less than 8 seconds.


If you’ve spoken in the past or maybe are intrigued by the prospect you probably are already familiar with basic speaking advice. Most speaking coaches will give you pointers on body language, posture, eye contact, and storytelling.  But here is the truth: If your audience isn’t identifying with what you are saying then none of what you are sharing will stick with them.


So, how do you engage your live audience for them to identify with your message and convert them into fans? Well, it all starts with interaction.


If you audience feels like they are part of your speech –either as a potential client, co-worker of partner- they are much more likely to listen because all of a sudden the solutions you are offering are important to them. In order to make your audience understand the value you are providing you need to integrate them into your speech.  Have them share celebrations, stories or answer questions. The point is to make your audience identify with the problem you are there to solve.


If you are giving a speech about confidence, for example, start your talk with a personal story of feeling diffident. Then, ask participants if they have similar stories and can relate. Then, open up a “dialogue” where you ask the audience how uncertainty might have affected their lives in the past. Once you have laid out the problem –that self-consciousness and lack of confidence can be detrimental to personal and professional life- and have the whole room thinking about this, you can start to talk about your solutions, advice and opinions.


If, however, you’re talk is more motivational rather than sales based, then you need to hit emotional peeks within your speech. This can be done through a variety of questions, interactive exercises, games and dialogue with your audience. The basic rule is that every 5-10 minute you want to integrate a interactive component to your speech to keep your audience on it’s toes and constantly engaged.