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How to get your audience to listen…

Ginger Leadership Communications

You have to give a presentation for like the umpteenth time… about something boring… that people have heard before… and you’re just SURE they just won’t listen. The world is so saturated with messages about the same things over and over again. Why should people listen to me???

But wait… it doesn’t have to be that way. You CAN make something old new again, create a fresh take on old news, teach an old dog new tricks. You need to step into a new mindset. This means you aren’t a public speaker who’s delivering a talk, but a public engager who’s delivering an experience to your audience.  To do this you’ll need creativity. Here’s how you can get your audience to listen by stepping out of the box…

Reset your attitude! 

When we’re little, we believe anything is possible:

  • I’m going to be an astronaut
  • I’m going to be a fairy princess and live in a castle
  • I’m going to create the next big multimedia tech corporation and live the rest of my life in Silicon Valley.

As we grow older, we acquire rules about what is actually possible, what’s a pipe dream, and how we should actually behave. After time it seems as if our dreams have been disseminated into ‘should-haves’ and ‘wish-I-would-haves’. We are taught to not only think inside the box, but live/breathe/sleep in the box. Some of us are warned that if we step one toe out of the box we’ll get fired/ostracized/laughed at/scorned.

It’s no wonder we’re afraid to step outside the box of public speaking. Our whole lives are based on social roles, many times involving hiding your authentic self. Don’t stand out too much or else! For some of us it may seem difficult to even smile when we speak let alone think outside of that awful little box. To become creative and get your audience to really listen, you’re going to need a new attitude and allow those hidden, childlike thoughts to get through.

Remove thoughts like:

  • I have to do this!
  • They won’t be interested!
  • I better just get through this.
  • Everyone else does their public speaking like this…  (powerpoint), so I should too.
  • My audience will be bored but I guess that’s just the way it’s going to be.

Replace them with thoughts like this:

  • I want to do this!
  • I’m going to make sure they find this interesting.
  • I’m going to be playful and enjoy this speaking opportunity!
  • This is my chance to try something new and learn.
  • My audience WILL be engaged and challenged.

If you plan your talk with the second list of thoughts in your head… you’ll automatically get your audience to listen!

Jump start your creativity! 

We understand very little about how we acquire creativity. Cognitive scientist Paul Thagard has created a list of habits that highly creative people employ, based on the habits of successful scientists. To get creative he advises:

  1. Make new connections: Don’t use the same old material to create your talk. Look for inner inspiration from a different field and use analogies/comparisons to link things together.
  2. Don’t be afraid to fail: If you’re always afraid of being wrong, you will severely inhibit your ability to try! Failure is a sign that you’re trying something new and pushing boundaries. We have to learn to fail WELL.
  3. Persistence: Give it a chance would ya? Give your new style a chance to be successful, even if it feels strange. (and in the beginning it WILL)
  4. Get excited!: Enthusiasm wins the day. Try looking at your topic through the eyes of a small child. What do you like about it? What thrills will your talk reveal?
  5. Be sociable: Creativity comes quickly when you’re surrounded by new influences, so look to other people for fresh ideas.
  6. Use what’s around you: There is inspiration everywhere, if you’re just open to it. Seek metaphors, analogies, stories, and humour from the world at large. Bring the richness of your experience into your public speaking.

Follow the RULE! 

This is all about taking a gigantic leap outside of your comfort zone! You can truly get your audience to listen using creativity by following the RULE of freshness:

Make sure any technique you use is:

R- Relevant to your message and relevant to the audience’s reason for being there. Move beyond the stereotypical ‘ice-breaker’ or ‘opening with a joke’, appealing icing on a very dull cake. Instead, add texture and colour to the ideas in your talk that you want the audience to remember.

U- Unique: Do something unforgettable. Be unique in the emotions that you use, or in your story telling. Utilize a different room layout or use a shocking prop.

L- Learning: Always keep in mind that you are speaking to GIVE information or inspiration, rather than get famous. You should be thinking about what you can give the audience and leave them with the feeling that they’ve learned something new. Servant speaking is a wonderful way to do this.

E- Engaging: Encourage your audience to tap into their own creativity and imagination – whether it be physically or emotionally or mentally. If the audience is not engaged, it’s like a play with no audience.


More information on how to become the speaker you’ve always wanted? 

If you’re eager to become a more inspiring speaker, Ginger has a multitude of courses just right for you! From freebies to e-courses, books to workshops, jump in to Ginger. Click here for a full list of Ginger courses and resources. Pass it on! 

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