Public Speaking Tips #3: Speaker-Audience Interaction Essentials

By Paulina Chin-wong

General Speaking Reminders: 

Eye contact: Eye contact is a super important aspect of giving a speech as your eyes are one of the significant ways an audience can gauge your confidence level prior to or during a speech of any sort. By sustaining eye contact it allows for your audience to want to actively listen and pay attention to both you and your message. One thing to keep in mind is that you should not try to stare someone down when you are presenting. Instead, try holding a soft gaze. A soft gaze can not only make you seem more inviting but it also shows that you are not afraid to let others see you. 

Cheat Sheets and Speaker Notes: When using notes try to avoid reading directly from them. It not only ruins your credibility but it makes you appear uncomfortable to your audience. Thus, if you are uncomfortable your audience will also be uncomfortable too. Your audience feeds off of your energy, so try to maintain a positive and inviting demeanor. If you do happen to be using notes for your presentation make sure that your notes are actually notes. Notes are not full-length sentences or a script. Notes should be a mix of short sentence stems or keywords and phrases that assist you in sharing your message. 

Visual Aids

Ensure that your visual aids are actually functioning as visual aids. Audience members need to be able to see your visual aids in order for them to be effective. If in fact, audience members are unable to view your visual aids then they serve no purpose. 

Yes, visual aids can help you stay on track and not go on unwanted tangents, but that is more of a bonus. Visual aids are not actually meant for you; they are meant for the audience.

Know your Audience 

Pros of knowing your audience:
- Increased interaction amongst audience members
- Familiarity with audience knowledge
- Speaker confidence booster!

Once you know who your audience is, it's time to use it to your advantage. By knowing who your audience is it can help you ensure that they will be able to understand what point you are trying to make, as well as not bore them to death amidst your speech. Make sure that the content of your speech is not too detailed or too homely, but instead perfectly tailored to your audience's prior knowledge to the contents of your speech. 

Fearing you Audience

Your audience is not there to criticize you. Your audience is not there to make comments about your appearance, ethnicity, sexuality, clothing, style, etc. They are not there to make fun of you. They are there to get your message. That’s it. They are there to get the message that you wish to share with them. 

Audience Engagement

Be comfortable with silence: Yes, worlds are important but pauses are also just as important. Now that doesn’t mean that you should take a 5-minute pause mid-speech or literally write pause in your speech. Take short pauses when you feel the need to take a pause. Your pauses should be natural, not forced or acted. 

Being present: When you are talking, make sure that you are present. Drawing inspiration from what is around you can really add to your speech. Incorporating what’s around you into your speech can aid your messages in a splendiferous manner.

Visual Representation.