SPEAKING WITH IMPACT
Each week, speech coach and leadership mentor James Rosebush will answer a question on how to improve your public speaking
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David Forster, CEO of Leron Inc. asks: “When people used to ask, ‘who is your competition’ I used to answer ‘other linen companies.’ Now my main obstacle is a customer who is distracted by the things I say. When speaking before a public audience, how do I capture and hold their attention?

Dear David,

What a great question and something we all have to deal with in a multi-channel society running at warp speed. The real challenge is getting an audience to focus, and remain focused, long enough to drive your message down the fairway and into the hole. I get it. When I speak, I sometimes get the feeling that members of the audience are thinking, “I could have been doing something else… now that I’ve decided to sit here and listen, I want the speaker to prove that I made the right choice to be here.”

It can sometimes be a harsh climate for an audience and speakers have to up their game.
 
I suggest that your audience needs to feel that they are going to receive critical knowledge that is of value to them if they remain in their seats and listen. Everything today is about impact. Will your speech affect the listener? Will it provide them with something they could monetize? 
 
I suggest you begin something like this: “I’m going to share something with you today that is unique, and when I discovered it, it changed my view and opened my mind to a whole new industry. Here it is, in four points.”

Now you may think this is fine for a sales pitch but not for a serious academic lecture. Not so. It doesn’t matter what the subject is; it’s incumbent on the speaker to ask themselves, “What is the most valuable information I can impart, and is this what the audience is looking for?” Once you get the audience hooked and you start telling stories about your product or thesis, you will make them think they’ve made the right choice by coming to hear you.