How to Command Attention When You Speak

How to Command Attention When You Speak

The moment you step on stage, you’re on a ticking clock to earn and keep the audience’s attention.

Let’s talk about how to do that:

1) Starting a speech

This is my absolute favourite way of starting a speech.

If you start by introducing yourself, then introducing the topic, it's far too predictable, and people will tune out in a couple of seconds, because nothing extraordinary has happened.

For us to start our speech in a way that gets the audience's attention, it must start in a way that is unpredictable and gets people wondering, wait, I need to tune into this.

I like starting off with one single sentence that either gets the audience to feel confused or intrigued. For example, here's a start to a speech that Simone Sinik used.

“I am embarrassed … that I … have a career.”

Imagine you're in the audience, you're there to learn from this expert, and these are the first few words out of his mouth.

Immediate intrigue.

From here, Simone starts to talk about how he helps. Leaders become better at their job, and if all leaders were really good at their job, he wouldn't need to speak about it.

Brilliant stuff.

Here’s an example of a few other ways you can start your speech.

2) Retaining audience attention.

Now, once you start talking, how do you keep the audience's attention?

One of the worst things you can do is speak in the same way throughout the entire speech or the presentation.

Staying the same means you are almost certain to lose the audience.

Sameness = boring

Variety = interesting.

You must learn to vary up your volume, your pace, your pitch when you speak.

If you want to practice this right now and fix this immediately.

Try this, quick exercise: