Public speaking may look like a solo sport but it really is not. For your speech to make the required impact, you must work and act together with your audience. How do you build interactivity into your public speaking? The following tips can help you do just that.
It is important to get to the venue of your speech in good time. If you arrive 30 minutes or even an hour before the time you are scheduled to speak, you will get the opportunity to meet members of your audience. Smile, introduce yourself, exchange business cards and make light conversation. What this does is to establish a rapport and convert people who were previously strangers into acquaintances. The more people you meet before your speech, the stronger links you will build with members of the audience.
Look around and smile
Before you start speaking look around the room. You will recognize people in the audience who you met earlier. Smile at them. They will smile back because now you are seen not as a stranger but as a new friend who just also happens to be the speaker on the stage. This kind of connection is important in many ways. It reduces uncertainty and unfamiliarity on the part of the audience and also breaks down the ‘me versus you’ mindset that individual audience members may have towards you. You have not just dropped in to talk to them. They met you earlier, you chatted and now you are in front of them continuing where you left off
Involve your audience
Many accomplished speakers kick off their talks by asking a question that is relevant to the audience and current events. You can do the same. For example, if you are speaking on corruption a day after an important football match, a good question could be “How many of you think the referee robbed us in broad daylight? Show by hand please.” You are guaranteed to get a response which you can then use to launch into your talk. Another way to involve audiences is to ask them to give you their definitions for the key concepts you will be discussing or what they expect to get out of listening to you. Your aim is to make them part of your talk so they stay with you to the end.
Do not use up your entire time allotment in speaking. If you were given 30 minutes, aim to end your speech in 20 minutes. Devote the remaining time to a question and answer session. Remember you speak in public but your also need to hear the public speak to you. The interactive session at the end of your talk provides your audience with an opportunity to give you their impressions and also clarify points they did not understand. Take full advantage of it.
Arrive at the venue early and chat with the members of your audience. This will make you less of a stranger to them. Before you launch into your talk, look and smile at as many people in the audience as you can – this will deepen your engagement with them. Involve the audience during your speech and create an opportunity for them to ask you questions at the end. These methods will help reinforce your interaction with your listeners and make your speech a two-way affair