How can you engage an audience, even if you’re feeling nervous about public speaking; and even if you’re not a ‘natural entertainer’? There’s a secret to really engaging public speaking that most speakers don’t seem to have heard…
The secret of how to engage an audience is to get ‘Fresh and Exciting’.
No. Not the cheesy (but awesome) 80’s song by Kool & The Gang but to use the quality of Freshness – one of the six qualities of an inspiring speaker – in your public speaking.
Freshness in your material and in your speaking style can keep people engaged even if your content might not be considered the most “exciting”. This begins with a whole new mindset. A way of thinking in which you are not a public speaker who talks, but an engager who is giving the audience an experience.
Freshness tip 1: Attitude is everything.
When we were young we think we can be and do anything! From a firefighter to a princess to a cowboy to an astronaut, we believe we can do something and are fully prepared to do so. As we grow older we’re taught what is a dream versus reality and “stop thinking silly things” and “don’t be ridiculous”. We’re taught how to behave properly and keep our feet on the ground and head out of the clouds please.
No wonder so many people are loathe to step out of the “norm”. We’re taught that we are to stay in the confines of our social roles, hiding away our authenticity; freshness may be an awful lot to ask. Sometimes it’s difficult to even smile when speaking, let alone add a new element of “fresh”.
Replace negative thoughts with ones that will encourage a fresh perspective:
- I have to do this with I want to do this!
- I’m not interesting with I will make sure they find this interesting.
- I’m just going to get through this with I will be playful and enjoy this speaking opportunity.
- They will all be bored with My audience will be engaged and challenged
Freshness tip 2: Get creative
Cognitive scientist Paul Thagard made a list of habits highly creative people utilize. You can apply these to your own public speaking. To get creative Professor Thagard suggests:
- Make new connections: Use different fields of knowledge or analogies to link ideas together
- Know that it’s okay to fail: If you’re afraid of failure, you’ll restrict your ability to try. Failing is simply a sign that you’re doing something new so go for it!
- Persist: Give your new style a chance to be successful, even and especially if it feels strange at first.
- Find excitement: Enthusiasm is the essence of freshness, so try looking at your material through the eyes of an excited intern. What do you like that relates to your subject? What makes it important?
- Be Sociable: New influences can spark creativity, so look to other people for different ideas when you’re writing your speech or workshop. What happens if you collaborate?
- Use the World: Inspiration is everywhere, all around, if you’re willing to be open. Look for ideas, metaphors, and humorous stories to add rich personal context to your public speaking.
Freshness tip 3: Go for it!
Freshness is all about a grand leap outside of what is comfortable. As Eleanor Roosevelt said “You must do the thing you cannot do.”
Make sure your fresh ideas are relevant, unique and learning orientated and you’ll be sure to engage your audience. Through this freshness you can touch the very hearts of your audience and leave them with a very powerful and unforgettable message.