I recently attended a Tony Robbins seminar, and I'll be honest. It had been a long day and when I heard that Tony would be speaking near the END of the day....for over THREE hours, let's just say that my excitement was tempered.
Now, if you have ever seen Tony Robbins live, you will know that 3 hours is NOTHING for him. However, I did not know what to expect AT ALL.
After leaving that day, I was MORE energized than when he started, and the 3 hours FLEW by!! Now I'm not going to simplify the magic that is Tony Robbins, but in one sentence he did this:
HE KEPT HIS AUDIENCE “IN THE GAME”!
When you speak, it is NOT a monologue. It is not just about you speaking to the audience. It should be like passing the ball back and forth so that your listeners feel involved! It WILL be mostly YOU yes, but it is not ALL about you.
Here are 3 ways to keep your audience in the game. Ignore them, and your audience may listen to what you say, but you will lose some of them along your journey, because it is just YOUR journey. Following these tips will ensure that the audience feels acknowledged and involved. Remember, its not just your story, it's everyone's story.
TIP #1: RHETORICAL QUESTIONS
The first way to keep your audience in the game is to ask the audience a question that they will have to answer in their own heads. If you can make the audience reflect on their OWN lives, they will remember what you say. This is because when you follow such a question with a story about YOUR life, they will compare your story to THEIR story based on the question that you asked.
For example, I once gave a talk about a failure that I had in junior school that stuck with me into my adult years. Instead of just getting into the story, I first asked the audience, “Can you remember a time when your confidence was crushed? Can you remember such a time from your childhood?”
By starting with this question, I gave the audience a chance to think about THEIR own lives, and so they connected and related to my story on a deeper level when I then went into my own failure. Too many speakers forget to get the audience to reflect, then just jump into their own story. Using this tool will allow you to connect before you even start talking about your own life.
Here is one closing WARNING: When you ask the question, give the audience TIME to think about their own lives. Don't do what many speakers do – they ask the question, then jump right into the thought. After you ask the rhetorical question, PAUSE. Answer the question in your own head. Give a moment for the audience to reflect. Look into their eyes and if your question is good, you will actually see the proverbial “wheels” turning in their heads. Let the question sink in, then move on to your story.
Phrase to Remember: WHEN THEY REFLECT, THEY REMEMBER.
TIP #2: REQUIRED ANSWERS
“Tell me and I forget; Teach me and I may remember; INVOLVE me and I learn.”(Benjamin Franklin)
Getting your audience involved is vital when speaking. When you ask a question that requires a VERBAL answer, they get involved in your speech and they will remember what you say.
Responding with an answer to what you are asking gets your audience involved in your speech. When they get involved, they feel like they are a part of your talk, and they will accept your message.
This can be done in many ways. Here are 2:
TIP #3: REPEAT & RESPOND
Speaker Les Brown is a master at this. I can almost hear him now saying to his audience “Turn to your left and right and say, 'You have greatness within you!'” Ensure you feel comfortable doing this before trying it (and don't overdo it), but telling your audience to repeat something you say can be very powerful. When we hear, we learn, but we truly buy into messages that we help to create. Repeating a phrase in your own voice drives it into your subconscious better than any other way.
Getting your audience to say something to a neighbour or few surrounding people does the same thing – it drives home the thought and message that you want to deliver even more effectively.
Phrase for Tip 3: WHAT THEY REPEAT, THEY REMEMBER.
Think about your next speech. How can you keep YOUR audience in the game? I'd love to hear from you...
WHEN THEY REFLECT, THEY REMEMBER.
WHEN THEY RESPOND, THEY REMEMBER.
WHAT THEY REPEAT, THEY REMEMBER.
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Kwesi Millington helps speakers, presenters and youth to connect with their audiences and master their messages using the power of storytelling in their speeches & presentations. He is a Certified Public Speaking Coach & Youth Mentor.