Have you ever wondered how to start a speech? How to engage your audience without issuing a word? The answer quite simple, but is rarely put into practice by speakers. The key to starting off a killer speech, engaging the audience, and looking like a pro is found in two easily implemented elements:
Body Language and … Pausing
Have you ever wondered if people are watching you even before you go up to speak? If they know you are scheduled to speak, there is a high probability they will be glancing at you from time to time. People do this out of interest and curiosity. They will note your body language and from that form preconceived conclusions about your confidence and credibility as a speaker. Don’t let them form the wrong conclusions! Have confidence in yourself, and know that you can achieve this. Sit back, relax, and assume an air of confidence, this will impact both you and your audience.
Once you are called to speak get up and walk to the front with the most confident stride you can muster (even if you are nervous). Keep your head up, shoulders back, and arms swinging at your sides. Move towards centre stage in a slow relaxed pace and take control of the room. Remember: they are here to listen to YOU.
Once you get to the centre of the room shake your MC’s hand in the most warm, welcoming manner you can. This will make you seem like a nice, friendly approachable person, and will relax the audience as well as yourself. This handshake represents an exchange of power between you and whomever introduced you, move to the centre of the room. The audience is now yours to command…
DO NOT SPEAK RIGHT AWAY!
This is the most crucial part in engaging the audience right away. Pause 5-10 seconds, survey the room while smiling and make eye contact with a few people. It may feel a bit awkward for you, it may even make some people in the room a bit awkward because they are expecting you to speak right away. With this pause they will want you to speak, to break the silence and the tension in the room. When you finally do, it is like a great weight has been dropped.
Words that follow a pause hold much more impact and power. They engage, they entice, and cause dramatic tension.
So remember for your next speech, have confident body language before the speech and utilize this body language as you sit among the spectators and walk to the front of the room. Once at the front have a warm and welcoming exchange of power, take control of the centre stage, and finally use a dramatic powerful pause to engage the audience right away!