Captivating Your Audience: Grab Them Right From the Start

Captivate Your Audience in Less Than 15 Seconds

I’m guilty of being a channel surfer. I can’t tell you how long it takes me to decide whether or not the channel I’ve landed on has something worth watching. Maybe 10 seconds? A minute? Five minutes?

Click. Next channel. Click. Click.

It probably doesn’t take anyone five minutes. Either you’re hooked within the first 15 seconds, or you’re not.

Click. Click. Click

When I finally hit a show that captivates me, I stop. Whatever it is that I see or hear, it only takes a few seconds to grab my attention and make me stay there. Before I know it, I’ve watched an entire episode. Can you relate?

Make It Worth Listening To

Lucky for you, your audience doesn’t have a remote control to change the channel if they get bored with your presentation, but that won’t stop them from tuning you out if they become disinterested.

As a presenter, your job is to captivate your audience and keep them engaged. But it has to be something you do right from the beginning. If you can grab your audience right from the start, half the work is done up front; all you need to do is hold their interest.

What captivates an audience? First let me tell you what does NOT captivate an audience: an apology (for being nervous, late, under the weather, etc.) or any other message that sets the audience up to anticipate disappointment or dread, such as telling them your presentation is going to be long.

Instead, start with a great story, a powerful quote, an anecdote, or a thought-provoking question. Recall your own experiences as an audience member and draw from that. What has worked on you in the past? What has a speaker said or done that sparked your interest and made you want to listen? One trick I’ve learned over the years is to start by mentioning a connection I share with the group, even if it’s just recalling another time I was in that building or visiting that city. It makes you relatable to your listeners.

Use Humor To Keep Them Involved

Sometimes a long presentation is unavoidable, but I’ve seen a lot of cases where speakers have made their presentations unnecessarily long. Remember that quality ALWAYS beats quantity.  If you can get your message across in 5 minutes, why would you take 10? Why use 20 PowerPoint slides when you could say everything you want and use only 12? It’s a simple fact that the longer you talk, the harder it is to keep your audience’s attention. At some point, every one of us has a breaking point. You don’t want your audience to reach theirs halfway through your presentation.

A captivated audience is one that’s getting something from your presentation. Give them a laugh every once in a while by inserting a funny slide or making a good-natured joke, ask them questions, invite them to participate, or just give them information that will somehow help them. When you provide value to your audience, they are more inclined to pay attention.

Make Them Feel Good About What You’re Saying

Above all, be genuine. People are drawn to others who are authentic and speak with conviction. If your audience doesn’t believe what you’re saying, or your message doesn’t resonate with them or make them feel good, they won’t listen long. Speak to your audience as though they’re a part of the conversation. When your audience feels involved, they’ll naturally take an interest.

Need help learning how to improve your opening so you can captivate your audience right from the start? Our training programs cover it.  Contact us today to find out which of our training programs is best suited to efmake you a more confident and effective public speaker.

5 thoughts on “Captivating Your Audience: Grab Them Right From the Start”

  1. I think that an important thing to remember is that the more concise, the better. Everything in our world moves so fast that no one has time to listen to something or someone that they don’t think is worth their time.

  2. Cathleen Whitmer

    I need to come up with more creative opens. I usually start off with a joke but they sometimes bomb. Ive seen other presenters that have me right from the start and thats what I want to be to my listerners.

  3. I have to thank you for the efforts you’ve put in writing this website. I really hope to check out the same high-grade blog posts by you later on as well. In fact, your creative writing abilities have encouraged me to get my very own blog now 😉

  4. So going through the history and jumping right into PowerPoint slides are not the way to start my presentations? lol

  5. Thanks a lot for the tips, they will really come in handy for me. However, sometimes, the audience plays a huge role, some might be impatient and intolerant to jokes and might want you to be very brief..

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