3 Common Sense Methods to Grab Your Audience’s Attention in Your Next Presentation

Today is Thursday, so this post is on dynamic communication.

I made a new friend last week.  Arvee Robinson is a persuasive speaking coach.  She teaches simple, common sense, proven ideas for delivering persuasive business presentations, getting the most out of networking and creating a 30 second “magnetic introduction.”  All three are key to becoming a dynamic communicator and to creating positive personal impact.  In this post, I’d like to concentrate on some of Arvee’s ideas on business presentations.

Arvee shared her three secrets for grabbing your audience’s attention when you are making a presentation.  She points out that, “Your goal as a presenter is to grab your audience’s attention and keep it.”  I call this tuning into station WII FM – or “What’s In It For Me?”

Arvee suggests three methods for grabbing and keeping an audience’s attention:

1. Ask enrolling questions.
2. Make a statement of declaration.
3. Use a staggering statistical statement.

These are great ways to kick off any presentation.  I know.  I’ve used them all myself, with a great degree of success.  Let’s look at each of them in a little more detail.

Enrolling questions are a great way to get your audience involved.  And, they’re simple to use.  Unlike a lot of communication advice, enrolling questions are best when they are closed end.  Closed end questions can be answered by a simple “yes” or “no”; or in the case of enrolling questions in a talk, by a show of hands.

The secret is to ask closed end questions that resonate with your audience.  For example, when I’m doing a talk on the ideas in “Straight Talk For Success,” I ask two enrolling questions.

  • “How many people here want to have a great life and career?”
  • How many people here are willing to put in the time and effort necessary to create a great life and career?”

When I ask the first question, the entire audience almost always raises their hands.  When I ask the second question, I most often get 100% of the hands raised.  Occasionally, three or four per cent of people will take down their hands.  But I’ve accomplished my purpose.  I’ve gotten 100% of the people in the talk enrolled.  They’re ready to listen.

A statement of declaration is another way to begin a talk.  According to Arvee, a statement of declaration is “simply an announcement – with meaning.”  You need to say them with conviction – like you really mean what you’re saying. 

For example, when I give a talk to entrepreneurs and would be entrepreneurs, I often begin by saying, “One day, way back in 1988, I looked in the mirror while I was shaving and said to myself  ‘if I’m not in business for myself by the end of the year, I’m going to cut my throat while I’m shaving’.” 

This statement of declaration always gets my audience interested.  As Arvee says, my statement of declaration, “Jerks anyone who may have mentally left the room back into their seats.”  It’s a powerful statement, because it got the audience to realize how strongly I felt about becoming an entrepreneur.

Finally, there’s the staggering statistical statement – nice alliteration Arvee.  This is a statement to which you can put a measurement; a percentage, a dollar value, or a number.  Arvee correctly points out that your statement must be true.  To this I add, that it’s also good for it to be verifiable. 

For example, when I’m speaking to a group of Human Resources executives about the importance of executive coaching, I site a Drake Beam Moran study and say “According to a Drake Bram Moran study, 66% of HR professionals say that have already implemented executive coaching; and 60% of those who have not done so, are planning on implementing executive coaching within the next year.  So what are you waiting for?” 

My information about coaching is not only true, it’s verifiable.  I always like to site my source material when I use a staggering statistical statement to get people’s attention.

Arvee makes one final point that I think is really important. 

“Remember, your opening question or statement must be relative to your topic and appropriate for your audience.  Memorize it, practice it, and own it.  If you grab your audience’s attention in the beginning, chances are you’ll keep them to the end.”

The common sense point here is simple.  All dynamic communicators share three things in common.  They are good conversationalists.  They write clearly and succinctly.  They present well; to groups of two or 200.  All good presenters begin by grabbing their audiences’ attention.  Arvee Robinson, speaker coach, lists three great ways to grab your audience attention: 1) use enrolling questions; 2) make a statement of declaration; and 3) begin with a staggering statistical statement.  If you master and use these techniques, you’ll not only grab your audience’s attention, you’ll hold it throughout your talk.

That’s it for today.  Thanks for reading.  Log on to my website www.BudBilanich.com for more common sense and to subscribe to my weekly newsletter “Common Sense.” 

I’ll see you around the web and at Alex’s Lemonade Stand.


PS: Speaking of Alex’s Lemonade Stand, my fundraising page is still open.  Please go to www.FirstGiving.com/TheCommonSenseGuy to read Alex’s inspiring story and to donate if you can.

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