We can always help people listen to us by doing the following:
1. Start by highlighting our points: not only does this simplify learning, it also helps the audience to follow our presentation. Scholars and professionals have agreed that human beings assign importance to numbers. What this means is that anytime a speaker makes a statement like, “There are five types of…”, listeners start to write the points immediately because they believe the points are the important part of the speech. This technique can be used to begin a presentation. The moment we start to list our points, our listeners will quiet down and begin to pay attention. This is a very effective way to grab attention in a situation when there are potential distractions around.
2. Ask our audience to do something interesting: we can welcome our audience to our presentation by asking people to say something nice to someone sitting next to them or to walk across the hall and meet someone new. There is no doubt that this will generate some excitement. It becomes even more interesting when we observe that we have been left out of the goodwill sharing and we speak up about it; several people will come up to us in response to our comment. This technique will win for us the favour of the audience and breaks the ice. However, please note that this technique is not appropriate for all presentations. The more formal an event is, the more we need to go straight to the point. It is also important to note that our success will be determined, largely, by the kind of audience you have. Some people would love to participate in such activities while others may consider it a cliché or may not even want to be bothered.
3. Ask our audience to repeat something after us: asking our audience to repeat things after us is a very nice way to attract attention. Since they must listen before they repeat, we get them to concentrate. The rule, however, is that we must never ask them to repeat something that is negative or derogatory. It is preferable to make them say things that are motivation. For instance, they may repeat, “I believe I will become a success when I work hard”, “there is a giant in me”, etc. If we let the words focus on a better vision of themselves, they will repeat it after us.
4. Ask our audience for their expectations: this technique is particularly effective for workshops, training, and other educational events. Here, we ask people to volunteer to tell us what they expect from the session. This will get them talking and participating. We may even find some people who are seated agreeing with those speaking. The benefits of this technique are in two folds: first, members of the audience would love to pay attention, since they set the agenda for the class, and second, we will learn how to align our presentations to their expectations.
5. Use an analogy: an analogy means drawing a comparison in order to show a similarity in some respect. For instance, we may be invited to make a presentation on the importance of public relations. To establish our point, we may begin by telling a story about the medical practice. We may give examples of how people neglect their health until it become unmanageable. We may further emphasize how prevention or earlier detection could have saved the situation. Then, we can liken a public relational officer to a doctor who is, unfortunately, consulted when the damage has been done. We may emphasize that just like doctors, public relation officers analyse trends, predict consequences and offer sound advice to clients. By so doing, we would have used the well known situations in a discipline (Medicine) to explain the less known situations in another (Public Relations).