So much of what we do in speaking involves the visual that goes with the verbal. And, unfortunately, many speakers forget all about the visual part. Here are three tools you can use to energize your audience, keep them with you, and provide a humorous experience. Watch the video below before you begin reading about the tools under it.
Note: This is an excerpt from a speech I gave to a wonderful company in Oklahoma.
Tool #1: Finish the Phrase
Let your audience finish your phrase. For example, I said, “Being the World Champion is a blessing and a _________.” They said, “Curse!” and finished the phrase. You will recall that I held my hand to my ear to signify that I wanted them to yell out. That’s the visual part. You can do this several times throughout your speech to keep them on their toes and get them involved.
I also asked, “Good luck is when preparedness meets what?” Several of them said, “Opportunity!” This is great because it makes those who got it right feel good. Plus, every now and then you’ll hear an answer that you can jump on as a spontaneous moment.
For example, one time I said, “Good luck is when preparedness meets…” and someone yelled out, “Preparation!” Needless to say, I jumped all over that one and the audience member and I had a wonderful back and forth. This is another example of the Finish the Phrase tool.
Tool #2: React to their Reactions
After I used the line about Denzel Washington, I looked at one audience member and said, “You didn’t have to laugh that hard.” She laughed and the audience laughed with us.
The key is to pick out people who have reacted in a certain way (visibly or verbally) and actually talk directly to them. It makes them feel special and it helps you connect with the entire audience. Plus, it turns the speech from a monologue into a dialogue.
The key here is not to just give the line, but also give the look that goes with the line. That’s the visual part. The reaction on your face should precede the response from your lips.
Tool #3: Give the audience Dialogue
If an audience member says something funny or meaningful, repeat it and give him or her credit. I did this when the lady in the front row said, “I thought 4 hours was the max.” The key is to repeat it in his or her same dialogue by saying, “She said, ‘I thought 4 hours was the max.’” This is much more effective than narrating it with “She told me 4 hours was the max.” Say it exactly how she said it. You can also gesture to the person with an open hand (rather than pointing with your finger). That’s the visual part.
Again, this makes the audience member feel important and gives her a bit of temporary stardom. After all, what do you think will happen when she goes back to her office? Chances are her colleagues will talk about that moment. When they discuss the moment, they remember you. This helps to transform your talk from a static speech into an exciting experience.
I’m curious to know if and how you’ve used the abovementioned tools. Let’s talk about it. How have you used them? What happened as a result?
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