If you look up the word entertaining in the dictionary, you will find that it means fun, interesting and enjoyable. Therefore, to become a more entertaining speaker, you need to become more fun, interesting, and enjoyable for your target audience.
Here are some practical tips to help you improve your speaking entertainment ratio.
1. Focus on the needs and wants of your audience. Remember that I am a boring ME deep in the conversation. To avoid being boring, stay focused on the audience, not me. He speaks in terms of his desire to be recognized, to belong, to feel important, and to enjoy pleasure and laughter. People need attention. There is nothing more affirmative than the undivided appreciation and care of another. If you want your audience to give you their full attention, give them yours.
2. Put a smile on your face the moment you enter the building and keep it there until you leave. I remember hearing a speaker who spoke very well, but before he started and by the time he finished his smile was nowhere to be seen. Be aware of the importance of your smile in meeting the needs and desires of your audience.
3. Be enthusiastic about your life and your message. Enthusiasm is contagious and attracts attention. Ask yourself if you were a member of your audience, would you be listening carefully to what you are saying?
4 Tell stories. A study was conducted at an American university to look at factors that positively impacted students’ attention and retention of course content. It was found that when the teacher used humor and storytelling in a lecture, retention of material and attention to what was being taught increased significantly. Here’s a good message for us as speakers.
5. Laugh at yourself during your presentation. There is nothing that people enjoy more than hearing and watching a speaker laugh at their weaknesses and human faith. It gives the audience permission to laugh at themselves when they see their own flaws and weaknesses reflected in yours. It promotes a “we’re all in this together” attitude. I tell a story about the time I parked my car outside our local post office. I went outside and found a beautiful middle-aged woman on the step of the post office. I sucked in my stomach, smiled as I climbed the steps like a young gazelle and gave the woman an enthusiastic “HELLO !!” When I left after doing my business, she was still there, so once again I gave her the time of day and got into my car looking and feeling pretty mellow. When I took out my keys and tried to insert them into the ignition, they didn’t fit. I looked in the rear view mirror and saw my car two cars behind me. In my exuberance to impress and look elegant, I had gotten into the wrong car. All I could do was go out, look at the object of my attention and say, “OOOPS WRONG CAR.” She just stood there looking very amused by my antics. Whenever I tell this story, the audience roars and when I finish my presentation, usually three or four people come to share similar experiences with me. We are all in this together.
If you don’t laugh at yourself, you leave the job to someone else.
6. Use your voice as an instrument. Show excitement, joy, intensity, fun, frustration with your voice. Whatever you do, don’t be a monotonous speaker. They are deadly.
7. Have fun with your audience. Near the end of each presentation on humor and fun in the workplace, I offer a rhythm band experience for members of my audience. I usually select 8 people willing to participate in this musical experience. I give each member of the group a rhythm band instrument similar to the instruments we all remember from elementary school. A short instruction on how to play it comes with the instrument. I don’t teach them too much, as the fun comes from watching them get creative when playing their instrument. I play and sing a song on the guitar and my band goes crazy. If you can’t play guitar, don’t worry. Simply select a song from a CD and play it back for the band to accompany you. The song is not that important, but the fun is. I have had CEOs of large companies in the band who have had a great time. After the concert, some members of the audience said “I’ve never seen him like this before. In fact, they were having fun.” That is the liberating power of the game.
8. Tell stories to your audience. We all love to be told stories, whether we are six or sixty years old. In my Audio CD “How to Use Storytelling in Public” I talk about the importance of storytelling and show you how to use it effectively in your presentations. Stories amuse, inform, and entertain your audience, so use them often.
9. Be yourself. Get rid of the masks you hide behind and let your audience see and enjoy your true self.
10. Relax and enjoy the experience of speaking. The audience is not your enemy. They want you to be good so their needs are met and their investment of time is rewarded.
These are the basic elements that go into being a more entertaining speaker. Take one at a time and try to incorporate it into your presentations. You will be satisfied with the results.