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Speeches—Enthralling Your Audience

People are spoiled by entertainment on TV and in the movies. Hence, any presentation you make is likely to be to a critical audience whose expectations you cannot control. Here are some things you can do to improve your impact:

  1. Start off with a high-impact statement. You may

    • challenge the group to use a central concept;

    • provide the group with some anecdotal information that sets the scene for what is to come;

    • take a poll that will demonstrate the value of the group's investment in time listening to you.

  2. Don't read your speech. Picture the entire speech in your head beforehand so that you can imagine the flow of ideas. Then record key ideas on cue cards, each containing a heading and three or four key ideas. Or simply summarize the entire speech on one piece of paper, noting key ideas by highlighting or writing them in bold.

  3. Alter your voice modulation often. Speak louder than you normally would, to indicate your confidence.

  4. Emphasize key points by:

    • pausing before you share them;

    • speaking more slowly and deliberately;

    • raising your voice;

    • punching the air with appropriate hand gestures.

  5. Avoid remaining static. Move around from time to time, particularly when you are engaging in dialogue or answering questions. Move closer to the audience to demonstrate your interest.

  6. Make the audience think about what you are saying. Ask members questions — even hypothetical ones. Pause to let them contemplate the answers.

  7. Poll the audience to show your interest in them and to demonstrate members' support for key points you are proposing.

  8. Move constantly to cover different parts of the room. If you sense some hostility, however, focus more on those people who are nodding their agreement with you.


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