Being an engaging speaker is about connecting with people’s minds and hearts, thus getting them interested in what you have to say. It is also about giving people your full attention when they are speaking. This allows you to build trust with your audience. Having the ability to engage people has several advantages. It enables you to communicate effectively during job interviews, sales pitches, negotiations or meetings. As a result, it can improve your reputation, as well as enhance your career prospects.
Here are some strategies for becoming a more engaging speaker:
1. Tell stories
Stories are a very powerful way of capturing people’s imaginations and connecting with them. You can use stories to show empathy, communicate a vision, motivate or teach. Make sure the story is told in a context which other people can relate to. Remember to include elements such as conflict, struggle and suspense. Finally, your story should have a good resolution or ending.
2. Enunciate clearly
When speaking to people, make sure you pronounce your words clearly. If your audience cannot understand you, they are likely to get frustrated. Don’t talk too softly or too fast, and avoid slurring your words. Before speaking to people, it would be advisable to practice in front of a mirror. Observe yourself carefully. Your tongue, jaw and lips should all move for your words to be clear. Repeat difficult phrases several times on a daily basis.
3. Use positive body language
When it comes to communication, your body language is as important as your words. You need to look passionate, interested and confident when addressing people. Therefore, be sure to use your facial expressions, gestures, vocal tone and posture to engage your listener. You can project confidence by looking people in the eye, smiling and standing up straight. Use meaningful hand gestures to get your points across.
4. Calm your nerves
Nervousness can cause a dry throat and sweaty hands, thus affecting your ability to communicate effectively with others. Therefore, you need to learn how to calm your nerves. One of the best ways of loosening up is by smiling and making eye contact. Focus on the listeners rather than yourself. You can also calm your nerves by applying deep breathing techniques.
5. Make use of silence
When speaking to people, you don’t have to fill every second with words. Instead, learn how to use silence to your advantage. Avoid filler words like ‘well’, ‘like’, ‘ok’, ‘um’ or ‘you know’. Such words could give your listeners the impression that you didn’t prepare well. You can emphasize your points using strategic pauses. This gives your audience the opportunity to absorb what has just been said. You could even pause in the middle of a long sentence when appropriate.
6. Verify your information
Reliability of information is very important for effective communication. Before speaking to people, make sure your content is trustworthy and solid. As often as possible, use relevant and verified statistics to support your points. This will make it easier to capture the attention of the people you are speaking to.
Applying the above tips will help you improve your speaking skills, thus enhancing your chances of capturing the attention of your listeners.