In the midst of your speech, you sense that most of your audience is daydreaming. What gives?
They're probably listening, but half-heartedly. That's why you must make every effort to captivate your audience and prevent them from tuning out. Don't assume everyone will raptly absorb every word. Use these techniques to keep them attentive:
Set the stage. Level with your listeners about your core point—and why it's important to them. By explaining your main message in the first minute, you up the odds that people will retain it.
If you begin by sharing an anecdote, preface it by saying, "I want to tell a story that underscores the importance of this presentation. It's a story about …"
Summarizing the point of your story alerts everyone of what's to follow. It can also stoke curiosity. Say, "I want to share an experience that shows why customer service matters. It's a story that illustrates how reaching out to adversaries can promote friendships."
Give an overview. When preparing a speech, organize it into three chapter headings. Then provide listeners with a road map of what you're about to cover.
After your opening story, for instance, let everyone know what's coming. Say, "Let's explore this issue by evaluating service expectations, analyzing customer input and proposing new ways to measure service delivery."
Keep referencing your main point. Sprinkle references to your core message throughout your presentation. Use phrases such as, "This relates to the theme of this talk because …" or "If the point of this talk is [summarize main point], then it helps to explore …"