Interaction is about focusing on the audience, not you. The Webster’s Dictionary definition of engagement in this context is emotional involvement or commitment. To take engagement to the next level, you need both. I developed my style of engag- ing an audience while working for motivational speaker Tony Robbins from 1988 to 1993. My job was to lead sales teams and work with promoters that filled his events throughout the United States, the U.K. and Australia. I did talks to sell tickets, mostly to skeptical sales people. I had to get commitments to take action ow and purchase tickets. I gave over 1,200 talks before my first paid event. I quickly learned the difference between presentation and persuasion. If I did a presentation, people would smile, thank me for coming, and say they would “think about it.” But if I engaged, challenged and persuaded them, I got applause, ticket sales on the spot and referrals. What actions are you persuading audiences to take? When I made the transition to professional speaking, I took what had worked for me in that arena and moved it to the main stage. I learned that people would rather be enter- tained than educated. If I got them to laugh, move, reevaluate and, most important, to change their emotional state by changing their physiology and internal dialogue, then I was success- ful in engaging and entertaining them. TOOLS OF ENGAGEMENT “Contrast” is the keyword of emo- tional involvement. Think of developing more contrast in how you deliver your message using these three tools of engagement: Body. Vary your gestures and facial expressions and make extended eye contact between two and five seconds. Move with a purpose on stage and don’t wander. When in doubt, move in toward the audience and get off the stage when possible. Engage one person at a time. Carry on a series of interesting con- nected conversations by moving from one set of eyes to the next. Speakers should appear to be looking at individuals, not the audience. Connecting regularly from one set of eyes to another takes emotional engagement to the next level. With a big audience, when you look at one, you appear to be looking at dozens. Voice. Vary your voice inflection, pace and volume to transmit energy and make you interesting to listen to, mark out key words for greater emphasis and meaning, use silence and the power of pausing for emphasis. Energy. Do not underestimate the power of “switching on” before PREPARE TO BE SUCCESSFUL Audience engagement begins before the event. Calling and interviewing participants from different levels of the organization is essential. When possible, obtain permission to use direct quotes that illustrate that you have done your homework. You want the audience to think, “Wow, how did the speaker know all that? He was really well prepared.” When you arrive at the event, it is helpful to attend a few sessions and converse with other attendees over a meal before you speak. Introduce yourself to as many people as pos- sible. Referencing what you learn will boost your credibility and score points with even the most skeptical audience members. Before you go on stage, select the right music to set a fun, energetic tone for your presentation. Do not leave it up to the tech team to create nergy in the room for you. GET THEIR MOTORS RUNNING I primarily do opening and closing keynotes that last 60 to 90 minutes. When the audience seems comatose, I ask attendees to stand shortly after
Educating them was not enough.
you begin. Vary the highs and lows
in the emotional connection of your
message, touch when appropriate and connect with the audience.
Get the attendees to do something
physically. Your energy on stage is
contagious. How does your energy
flow during your presentation?