As a body language expert, it's always fun for me to watch my audience and tell what catches their interest - and what they couldn't care less about. As a speaker, this means I can tell exactly what my audience is enjoying, and when it's time to change the subject.
As a listener, it's much less fun. The only consolation I have when listening to a boring speaker is watching all the signals of boredom from the audience members. Sweet vindication.
Speakers, take note: The event manager may have given you the stage - but they can't give you the audience's attention, or respect. That's something you have to earn, and the audience isn't giving it up easily. So, you need a plan.
Of course, if we were face to face, it would be so much easier to pinpoint your exact problems with public speaking, but since this is a blog-post going out to many people with different types of speaking problems, we'll stick to the basics. Here are the three things you need to do in order to never bore an audience ever again:
1. Know Your Stuff. Your presentation should be well prepared and RELEVANT. Know it backwards and forward. If you're talking to an audience who doesn't need to know about your product, you shouldn't be on the stage. If you don't know what you're going to say, you shouldn't be on the stage. If you can't explain the exact problem you're trying to solve, you shouldn't be on the stage. This is something I often assist my clients in clarifying, so they know exactly what they want to say and can rock it on stage.
2. Have A Dramatic Entrance. No, you don't need to appear in a puff of smoke, or sprint onto the stage. What I really mean by have a dramatic entrance is this: don't be underwhelming. Don't stand up only to spend the first 12 minutes of your talk tinkering with your PowerPoint, or staring at your shoes. Stand up confidently with your shoulders back and your head in the air, smiling gently. Look at your audience and the person who introduced you as you walk onto the stage. Hold the gaze of your audience and pause for a few moments before you speak to make sure you have their attention. Know what to do with your hands! This is something my coaching clients are incredibly grateful for.
3. Know What Boredom Looks Like. On first glance, slack-jawed entrancement and slack-jawed boredom look surprisingly similar, so it's crucial that you be able to tell the difference. When people are bored, they are more likely to rest their heads on their hands, or slump in their seats, or check their phones, or check their watches, or fidget incessantly, or face the door, or (here's the big clue) stand up and leave. Be on the lookout on the earliest signs of boredom, and have a back-up plan of movement, activity, participation, or story-telling to re-capture their attention before they even notice it has wandered. This is why it's so important to be able to read the body language of your audience, and know exactly what they're thinking and feeling.
These are the very basic skills a speaker needs to have in order to please their audience and make the event planners happy. There are dozens more we could discuss, but that would require a personal conversation.
Get started on these skills, and begin thrilling your audiences today!