Getting to Know You: 5 Ways Keynote Speakers Can Naturally Engage their Audience

manImagine the rush you’ll feel after you deliver a winning presentation at an upcoming conference. Members of the audience will beeline towards you, hoping to pick your brain about the topics you just discussed. The hearty round of applause will let you know that all your hard work does, in fact, count for something. Above all, you can walk away feeling confident that you seized the opportunity to reach people in a meaningful way.

But before you can bask in the fulfillment of delivering a killer key note speech, you have to actually plan and deliver said speech. Without the right fundamentals in place, your victorious daydreams may never become a reality. You owe it to yourself and your audience to knock your next presentation out of the park!

Let’s talk about how keynote speakers can naturally engage their audience for a truly impactful presentation. Here are five ideas to keep in mind.

Come Out of the Gate Strong

In other words, don’t save your best stuff for last. You need to grab your audience’s attention and hold it throughout the duration of your talk. Carmine Gallo, a keynote speaker and communication coach, writes for Forbes about Apple’s 2012 speech at the Worldwide Developers Conference as an example, reminding us we have about 90 seconds to hook our audience. At that conference, the technology giant used Siri to kick off their presentation with jokes. The impact was so memorable that it’s still noteworthy today, precisely because it subverted the audience’s expectations.

So: what can you do to start your presentation off on the right foot? Get creative and give people a reason to care.

A Picture’s Worth 1,000 Words—Or More

You’re already peppering the audience with words, facts and insights. Expecting the audience to digest what you’re saying plus word-heavy visual aids is simply unrealistic. It’s a much better idea to let yourself do the talking while keeping your visual aids truly visual—think pictures, maps, video clips and more.

Embrace Unconventionality

You didn’t get to where you are today by falling in line. Otherwise, your keynote speech wouldn’t be very interesting, would it? The last thing that an audience wants to see is another person in a suit delivering a run-of-the-mill speech full of recycled clichés and media.

Drive your point home by offering the audience what only you can—your quirks, vulnerabilities and life experiences. Don’t tell the audience what you think they want to hear; be authentic. This will go a long way in forging a genuine connection with every person in the room. It’s okay if you stand out. That’s why you’re the distinguished keynote speaker.

Ask the Audience; Don’t Assume

Sometimes engaging your audience is a matter of going straight to the source. Instead of dropping lines like “you probably think X is true” or “most of you would say X answer,” why not actually ask? Using a Google slides presentation app with polling capabilities allows the audience to switch from passive observation mode to active contribution mode. Using their mobile devices, tablets or laptops, every person in the room can respond to your questions. Not only does this establish a camaraderie with the audience, but you can use the results to direct your presentation on the fly.

Use Movement to Make It Moving

Question: What’s the difference between your keynote presentation and a popular podcast or radio program? Answer: Your physical presence matters. Why deliver a speech that’s so static it could just as well be pre-recorded and played back?

“Don’t hide behind the podium. Forget your notes. If you have to depend on notes to give your presentation, guess what? You’re not being present,” advises entrepreneur Mitch Ditkoff for the Huffington Post. Move around the stage. Consider venturing into the audience space, if your technology setup allows. The key is to use your body language and movement to make it dynamic.

Engaging your audience should be at the forefront of your mind when you’re planning a speech. With these five tips in mind, venture forth boldly and go where only great keynote speakers have gone before!

, , ,