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Speaking 101: How To Capture Any Audience

Sarah Koszyk, MA, RDN

Speaking 101: How To Capture Any Audience


A huge part of public speaking is getting the audience to be engaged, interested, and involved. If the audience is engaged, they will more likely pay attention to you and connect with the message you are providing them. When an audience is attentive, you are not just talking at them, you are talking with them. Capturing the attention of an audience is imperative to nailing that award-winning, memorable speech.


Here are 5 tips to capture any audience during a speech:


#1. Pause before you speak. Sonja Stetzler, MA, RDN, CPC, owner of Effective Connecting and author of 7 Steps to Speaking Success, states “the first few seconds of your presentation is the height of the audience’s attention. They are waiting for you to start. If you pause before you utter your first word, you can capture them.”


#2. Tell a story. Dr. Jo® Lichten, PhD, RDN, an internationally known keynote speaker and author of REBOOT – how to power up your energy, focus, and productivity, emphasizes that people remember stories when illustrating a point. People don’t necessarily remember points. Start the presentation off with a story and use stories or examples throughout to keep their attention.


#3. Use eye contact effectively. “Scan the room to find people that are really interested in your presentation. Talk directly to them for a few seconds, then move on to the next person. Pick people in the front, the back, and in every section of the room. People like to feel that you’re actually talking to them,” informs Dr. Jo®.


#4. Ask the audience to participate. Stetzler likes to engage her audiences by getting them to do something such as using their hands to answer a question on a scale of 1-10. For example, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how do you rate your holiday eating habits?” This way the audience has to put down their smart phones and take action.


#5. Be animated. Dr. Jo® reminds us that “no one likes a monotone speaker who stands behind a podium. Get out front, move around the stage (or space). Offer variety in the pace of your speech, get excited!”


Both Dr. Jo® and Stetzler recommend to never apologize during your presentation. No matter what happens, just move on and don’t let the audience know you messed up or forgot something. The audience will not know and “the show must go on” as Stetzler notes.


Whether you are talking to 10 people or 10,000 people, engaging your audience is important. What tips are you going to practice at your next speech?

NutritionJobs has more tips on how to improve your public speaking skills and land your next public speaking gig.

Sarah Koszyk is founder of Family. Food. Fiesta. A family-based wellness program and blog focusing on recipes, family health tips, and videos with kids cooking in the kitchen. She is a Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Coach specializing in sports nutrition and adult and pediatric weight management. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or LinkedIn.

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