Presenters wouldn’t want to bore the audience with a winding speech with innumerable slides to match. There are times, however, when you just have to face an indifferent audience.
Teachers and lecturers especially encounter this type of problem most of the time. You may have prepared a 20-minute presentation, but if it feels like your target is indifferent to you from the start, then your preparation is all for naught.
If you’ve been in such situation, it might not be your fault after all. The next time you encounter that type of audience, here are some things you can do:
Be Aware of Warning Signs
When you get caught up in your presentation, you might end up rambling. This can cause you to be oblivious to the fact that your audience is tuning out.
In your next pitch, take note of the signs that people’s eyes are wandering off. They could be fidgeting or shifting in their seats. Some may even be squirming.
Those who are truly bored may be checking their watches and surreptitiously looking for the exit signs. To save your presentation, you need to be aware of such signals so you can react accordingly.
Connect Using the Right Body Language
According to body language expert Carol Kinsey Goman, when audience attention falters, non-verbal communication can play a significant part in keeping them engaged.
A strong eye contact, for example, can help jolt an audience member into paying attention. You may also use your voice to project and maintain control. In your spare time, try to learn how to vary the pitch and loudness of your voice.
Additionally, make sure to maintain the right stance. This will help you convey confidence and authority.
Break your Pattern
If you’ve been droning on for a few minutes, think about pausing for about 10 seconds. Doing so will surely get everyone to pay attention.
They’ll be surprised that you stopped. This will create anticipation on what you are going to say next.
Practice your Opener
Your slides won’t do everything for you. You can’t just show them to your audience while you go on reading from your notes.
You may not notice it but how well you prepare can affect how you hold your audience’s attention. Speech coach Sims Wyeth suggests that one of the most important parts you should master is delivering a great opener.
When you’re successful with your opener, you will be able to create a framework that prepares your audience for what they are about to hear.
Even the best presenters have difficulty commanding audience attention 100% of the time. It’s inevitable that people’s attention spans will stray from you.
However, there are ways to reel them back in. Surprise them by breaking your speech pattern, or starting off on the right foot. Impress them with a good pitch, and guarantee all eyes trained on you for the rest of your speech.
Goman, Carol Kinsey. “10 Simple and Powerful Body Language Tips for 2013.” Forbes. Accessed June 12, 2014.
Wyeth, Sims. “10 Ways Great Speakers Capture People’s Attention.” Inc.com. March 05, 2014. Accessed June 12, 2014.