How to Grab Your Audience’s Attention

Jonathan Li explains how to capture your audience’s attention – before you lose them forever.

You only have 7 seconds to grab your audience’s attention. If you fail to impress them, you may lose them forever. Here’s the solution: start with a BANG!

Ask a “You-focused” Question

Using “you” makes the audience feel that you are talking directly to them like friends. They will listen to your presentation.

Patricia Fripp, first woman President of National Speakers Association, likes rhetorical questions. For example, “If I were to ask you, ‘Is this the year you increase your presentation skills?’ Perhaps you’d say yes, perhaps you’d say no. Most likely, you would say, ‘I’d love to. Can you show me how?’”

Start with a Story

You may already know that stories build trust because people feel they know you personally. Scott Schwertly, author of How to be a Presentation God, says, “Just create a problem, then wow them at the end [of the anecdote] with some sort of an ‘aha’ moment, and you’ve got yourself a powerful story.”

If you are struggling to find a story that relates to your message, try sharing your personal experiences.

Here are some options:

  • The biggest mistake you’ve ever made in business.
  • Your proudest moment.
  • The biggest lesson you’ve learnt.

Use a Powerful Opening Line

After giving hundreds of presentations, I have discovered four presentation opening lines that are proven and powerful.

Choose one to open your next presentation:

  • If you were with me…

E.g. If you were with me at the hotel lobby three years ago, you would have seen me waiting for the customer service manager impatiently.

  • Have you ever…?

E.g. Have you ever had the feeling that you’re going to die?

  • I’ll never forget the day…
Jonathan Li

Jonathan Li

E.g. I’ll never forget the day I gave my first presentation in front of sixty people.

  • Imagine…

E.g. Imagine you’re lost in Paris. You don’t speak French and you have no money. What would you do?”

Here are your action steps: First, open your next presentation with a you-focused question or story. Then, write your opening so you know exactly what to say. Finally, practise your opening in front of a friend or family member until you can deliver it confidently.

With thanks to Jonathan Li, who hosts a weekly public-speaking podcast on The Expressive Leader website.


Published On: 21st Aug 2015

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