Monday, November 14, 2011

Public Speaking - Mental Involvement

One of the best ways to get your message to sink in is to get the audience thinking. This may sound elementary, but when you are up there spewing words at the audience, they may not have time to think. That is one reason pauses are so effective. They give the audience a chance to catch up and apply their own thoughts and value systems to what you are saying.

Asking questions of the audience is a great way to force them into the think mode. Has anyone ever been to Cleveland? A simple question like this zooms an individual audience member's mind to Cleveland if that person has been to Cleveland. If that person has not been to Cleveland, he or she will be tuned in mentally to see what you have to say about Cleveland. Have you ever had your keys in your hand one minute and the next minute they were gone? This question is the Has-this-ever-happened-to-you? variety. To corral the most audience members with a question like this, all you have to do is use a question that you know (from your pre-program research) will relate to most of the audience.

Johnny Carson before he retired, Jay Leno, and David Letterman all use questions about current news to grab their audiences mentally. They ask Did you read today or did you hear today about . . .? Johnny, Jay, and Dave know that if the audience has heard about the current event they will feel a common bond and if they haven't heard about it, they will listen more carefully. To make sure these talented and funny talk show hosts reach the largest portion of their respective audiences, they almost always explain or recap the news item before they make the joke. This gives those audience members that haven't heard about the current event a chance to get the humor.

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