Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Public Speaking - Gaining Critical Attention

Some Attention-Gaining/Interest Devices:

* Humor, of course
* Props
* Stories
* Voice inflection
* Stage movement
* Asking questions of the audience
* Showing visuals
* Playing music
* Gesturing
* Using quotations
* Reading or reciting poetry

Effective NO ZZZZZs presenters use attention-getting techniques spaced throughout their presentation to keep the audience's interest up. Each of these is discussed in detail throughout this book. The great sales and motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar, hits the audience like clockwork with a joke or story every seven to nine minutes. I even shorten that more to between six and eight minutes for high content talks and several times per minute for mostly humorous talks.

So, my response to the original question "When should I use humor in a presentation?" is at the beginning, the middle and the end, or anywhere you want a peak on your intensity wave. Use humor throughout your presentation and space it at intervals to provide a change of pace and to reemphasize your message in a new and interesting way.

Use as Much Humor as You Need

How much humor should I put in a serious talk? That's my second most frequently asked question. I can't give you the exact answer on that one, so I'll give you the answer everyone hates. It depends. You must ask yourself a series of questions. The answers to these questions will lead you to the final percentage that is right for you.

* Why am I here? Am I here to entertain, inform, motivate, answer questions, etc.?
* What is the nature of my subject? Am I here to congratulate the audience on breaking last year's sales record or am I here to inform the audience there will be massive layoffs?
* What is the nature of my audience? Are they fun-loving and laid-back or do they normally want the information fast and dirty?
* What about me? Have I developed appropriate humor that helps make my point or hold attention? Have I practiced one-liners until I'm comfortable telling them? The answers to these questions will clearly direct you in the appropriate amount of humor to use.

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