Speaking To Engage And Influence
Whether we’re delivering a presentation or leading a meeting, our ultimate aim is often to captivate and sway our audience. We strive for them to not only remember our message but also to take meaningful action. The ability to speak in a way that engages and influences is a valuable skill.
Recent research has revealed that just one week after a presentation, people tend to retain a mere 10% of the information presented. Given this relatively low retention rate, it becomes all the more imperative for us to master the art of engaging our audience, ensuring that our message has the greatest possible impact.
Our CEO and Founder, Jessica Chen, recently hosted a Soulcast Media | LIVE event on LinkedIn, where she interviewed Chairman at Citibank South Asia, Lung-Nien Lee. They shared tips and personal stories about speaking to engage and influence.
1. Build Rapport
To truly engage and influence our audience, it’s essential to establish a genuine rapport with them. Building rapport can take various forms.
Consider the following:
- Be Present – During the Soulcast Media | LIVE, Lung emphasized the importance of being fully present as the top way to establish rapport with someone. This means giving our undivided attention to the person or people we are engaging with. For instance, if we’re having a conversation with a colleague, it’s crucial to put our phone down or turn away from our computer screen. Being present conveys respect, active listening, and a genuine interest in what the other person has to say.
- Listen – Listening is a powerful tool for building rapport because it demonstrates our genuine interest in the wants and needs of others. For instance, if we’re chatting with colleagues and they mention getting a new puppy, we can follow up by asking about the puppy in the weeks and months that follow. Active listening not only helps in establishing rapport but also allows us to gather valuable information about the other person’s desires and requirements. This, in turn, strengthens our connections and relationships.
- Create Connections – Building rapport revolves around forging connections, and there are numerous ways to establish them. One particularly effective approach is through shared interests. During the Soulcast Media | LIVE, Lung emphasized the importance of having diverse interests, as it enhances our ability to engage with our audience. For instance, a simple point of connection could be our shared love for food. Almost everyone has a favorite restaurant or type of cuisine they enjoy, making food a universal and easily relatable topic.
Building rapport is a powerful tool that allows us to connect with our audience and maintain their engagement throughout our communication. It serves as a foundation for effective interaction and ensures that our message resonates with those we’re addressing.
2. Be Engaging
Becoming an engaging speaker or communicator requires some effort and strategic approaches. Jessica and Lung discussed various techniques during the Soulcast Media | LIVE to help capture and maintain the audience’s attention.
Consider the following:
- Tone – Your tone of voice plays a significant role in engaging your audience. If you speak in a monotone manner, it can make your message less engaging and might cause your audience to lose interest. Conversely, by varying your tone of voice and infusing energy into your speech, you can create a more captivating and engaging delivery. Your enthusiasm and energy are contagious, and they can help keep your audience attentive and interested.
- Body Language – Our body language plays a crucial role in engaging our audience. To keep them interested, we must use confident and positive body language. This involves maintaining good posture, making eye contact, and using expressive gestures. When we stand up straight and establish eye contact with our audience, it signals confidence and makes us more engaging. By consciously using our body language to enhance engagement, we can effectively capture and hold our audience’s attention.
- Authenticity – Being engaging also means staying true to ourselves and being authentic. It’s important not to come across as fake or scripted. Instead, we should relax and embrace our true selves when speaking to engage and influence. Both Jessica and Lung emphasized the importance of authenticity during the Soulcast Media | LIVE. If we try to memorize a script, we may appear insincere, causing our audience to disengage. Authenticity is key, as the audience can sense when we’re not being genuine.
- Storytelling And Humor – Storytelling and humor can be powerful tools for keeping our audience engaged. People tend to remember stories more effectively than plain facts or data, making storytelling a valuable tool for creating engaging presentations. Humor is also effective in this regard, as it can capture the audience’s attention and reengage them, ensuring they stay focused on our message.
Employing positive body language, staying authentic, and infusing energy into our presentations are effective ways to keep our audience engaged and attentive. These strategies not only make our message more relatable and approachable but also help establish a connection with our audience, making them more likely to stay engaged throughout our presentation.
Speaking to engage and influence is a skill that requires practice. To effectively engage and influence our audience, we need to become comfortable with our message and deliver it in a memorable and impactful way. This means refining our communication techniques and continuously working on our presentation skills.
Consider the following:
- Verbalize Out Loud – Preparing for a presentation or meeting involves practicing our message out loud. This entails speaking as if we were addressing our actual audience. One effective method is recording ourselves delivering the presentation. By reviewing the recording, we can take note of our tone, body language, and work on eliminating filler words. The more we practice verbalizing our presentation, the more confident we become in our delivery.
- Bullets – At times, we might find ourselves overwhelmed with the amount of information we want to convey. To boost our confidence, we can outline our key points and practice discussing them. Instead of scripting or memorizing verbatim, we can jot down three main bullet points and develop three subpoints for each. This approach helps us become more at ease with our message.
- Comfortable Topics – Sometimes, we might find ourselves in a situation where we have to give a presentation on a topic that makes us a bit uneasy. During the Soulcast Media | LIVE event, Lung shared that you can actually turn this challenge into an opportunity. Picture this: if there’s a topic that you’re super passionate about and could talk about endlessly – like, let’s say, movies – you can use that as your secret weapon. Instead of stressing about the uncomfortable topic, you can start by discussing your beloved movies. Get into the groove, feel the confidence building up, and then smoothly transition into the topic that’s been making you nervous. And the most important thing to remember throughout this process is not to overanalyze it. Just treat it like you’re having a casual chat with a friend. That way, you’ll be surprised at how naturally you can slide into that tricky topic and ace that presentation.
Practice really does wonders when it comes to boosting our confidence and making sure our message gets across clearly to our audience. It’s all about getting that comfortable groove and making things crystal clear for everyone listening.
When it comes to engaging and influencing through our speaking, it all boils down to the connection we build with our audience, whether it’s just one person or a whole auditorium.
If you want to see the full LIVE version of Jessica and Lung’s conversation, check out Jessica’s Youtube Channel.
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