A recent study conducted in Britain in 2008 concluded that the average attention span of a human is just 5 minutes and 7 seconds. This means that if you do not change something about your speech every 5 minutes, you risk losing the engagement with your audience.
To be safe, it would be good to use some kind of attention getting device every 2 to 4 minutes to shake up your presentation so as to keep your audience attentive and involved. Here are some of my favorite ways on how to engage your audience:
1. Changing Your Voice Inflection
Nobody likes to hear a speaker rambling on in monotone. Shake things up a little. Vary the pitch of your voice. If you are sharing an interesting fact, increase the pitch of your voice a little to show your interest in this fact. This minor change will transmit to the audience and keep their attention on you.
2. Showing A Visual
A picture speaks a thousand words. Showing visuals are a great way to capture the attention of your audience as it gets them thinking about what you have shown them, keeping them engaged and involved.
3. Holding Up A Prop
Again, the use of a prop captures the audience's attention as they would be curious about what the prop is for. The prop also acts as a concrete, physical item for your audience to focus on.
4. Move Around The Room
Remember, you are not constrained to a certain spot. Roam about the stage and as you walk, look straight at your audience and maintain eye contact with them. This fuels energy and conviction and keeps the focus on the audience on you.
5. Tell A Story
Personal stories are always much more effective than a dry fact or statistical. Stories are much more interesting and they have the power to keep the audience's attention firmly on you. These stories may come from your own personal experiences or even any interesting incidents that you have come across in the past.
6. Tell A Joke
Laughter is the best medicine and in this case, one of the better ways to keep your audience engaged during a presentation. Everyone loves a good joke so use humor liberally. Audiences appreciate a speaker who tries to entertain rather than just inform. Choose your jokes carefully and rehearse them such that you can deliver them with confidence.
7. Ask Questions
One of the best ways to keep your audience engaged would be to pose questions to them. Our brains are wired to think of an answer whenever a question is posed to us. That is human nature- we simply can not help it. When they are thinking, they will be engaged and their attention will be firmly on you to tell them the answer.
Infuse this knowledge on how to engage your audience into your speech. Your actions do not have to be too exaggerated. Simply slot whatever you have chosen into your routine and practice it till it comes out naturally.