Since most Americans speak at a rate of about 125 words per minute, the majority of the words you say will be forgotten. If all goes well, people will remember some key themes, or something you said that spoke directly to them—something that resonates.
However, one thing is certain when you stand and deliver a presentation: no matter how long your speech, the audience will never forget how you make them feel. One of Stephen Covey’s key principles in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, is “begin with the end in mind.” Consequently, be conscious as you prepare your speech to know how you want to end it.
What’s the best way to make the audience feel in the end? Have them leave the event feeling refreshed and energized. Here are some tactics to help the audience feel that positive energy when they leave the room:
- Deliver the unexpected. Use an ice-breaker exercise when the audience isn’t expecting it. I like to break with an exercise called “I, Me, Mine.” Ask the audience to separate into pairs. Have each couple stand and begin a conversation about their weekend plans. The first person to say the words “I,” “me,” or “mine” has to sit down. Watch the dynamic of the room and see how quickly people begin to take their seats. The prevailing theme is that when you speak to an audience, it’s never about you. It’s about their hopes, dreams, and aspirations. It’s an effective way to model your approach to show an audience you care about them. It’s also a lot of fun and challenges everyone to think differently.
- Move to the back of the room—or a different part of the room—and catch your audience by surprise. Sometimes that will create just enough of a spark to wake people up.
- Remember that energy is contagious. You don’t have to ignite the entire room at once. Find a few faces that show a glimmer of life and start there. Energy spreads quickly.
- Conclude your speech with a positive call-to-action. Share stories and quotes that are uplifting, provocative, and thoughtful.
I recently did a speech on the importance of emotional intelligence in the workplace. I left the audience that day with a quote that left them feeling both energized and inspired to live they life they dream of: “Be bold enough to use your voice, brave enough to listen to your heart, and strong enough to live the life you’ve always imagined.”
Energy is critical to your success. Be mindful of it throughout your presentation. Learn more about these and other techniques in my book, A Climb to the Top. You can also read my latest article in Latin Business Today!