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8 Strategies to Engage Your Audience & Keep Them Interested

05th Sep, 2023
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8 Strategies to Engage Your Audience & Keep Them Interested

You’re a motivational speaker and a good one. You’re invited to speak at numerous sales conferences all over the country. It’s tiring work but you love it. Connecting with an audience, and getting the desired reaction, gives you a big kick.

That said, you don’t always connect that easily and sometimes you suffer from speaker fatigue – or perhaps your audience is suffering from listener fatigue. To avoid boredom in a presentation or speech here’s some useful advice to help you engage an audience.

8 Strategies to Engage Your Audience

1. Why should they listen?

If your audience doesn’t have an obvious reason to be interested, then you need to tell them why they should listen. This can be awkward because some audiences are not there voluntarily. The answer? Tell them why they should care.

If you’re speaking about sales and marketing, then tell the audience about a few sales people who overcame extraordinary obstacles and made it to the top. Tell them how their lives were changed. Excite them!

2. Stick to your subject

Talk only about those things your audience is expecting to hear. This may sound obvious, but there are speakers who end up going off on a tangent and talking about something completely different.

Some years ago, I witnessed a speaker making this mistake. He was due to talk about email marketing, but for some reason, he started talking about Search Engine Optimisation for websites. He began by telling his 100-strong audience that he wasn’t going to talk about email marketing but rather about SEO.

He then asked how many audience members had a website, and watched as only 5 put up their hands. So, did he go back to speaking about email marketing? No, he didn’t, and 95 people had to sit through something they had no interest in.

3. Make sure your presentation has ‘flow’

If your presentation is compelling and audience members are hanging on your every word, then you’re in a state of ‘flow’. For flow to occur, the task of listening should not be too easy or too hard. A presentation presents a challenge to audience members – they are required to think, and you need to find the right level of challenge for your particular audience.

When a speaker wades through a series of bullet points, there’s no challenge and audiences get bored very quickly. Conversely, if the speaker rattles through the details of a complicated flow chart without explaining what it’s about, the challenge will be too great. A good tip is to ask yourself a few times during your presentation, ‘Is this too easy or too hard?

4. ‘Change’ is a way to grab attention

Because people’s concentration levels wander, you need to keep their attention. The best way to do this is to change what’s happening during your presentation. Try some of these:

  • Change from slides to a flipchart and back again
  • Change from listening to you to discussing a topic with the colleague next to them
  • Change from sitting around tables to standing around a flipchart
  • Show a short video
  • Employ audience response systems
  • Use a long silence before and after an important statement

5. Tell stories

Every presentation should include a sprinkling of anecdotes. People are hard-wired to listen to stories and perk up the minute you say, ‘Let me tell you a story about…’ But make sure the stories reinforce the points you’re making.

6. Take frequent breaks

You need to let an audience take frequent breaks, sometimes for just one or two minutes so they can refresh their drinks and walk around. Moving is a very effective way of keeping people attentive.

7. Get them moving

It’s estimated that audiences only pay attention for around 8 minutes at a time, so every so often get them to do some easy physical exercise like walking around the room in a conga line … with you leading them. Not only is this fun, but it will pump some more energy into every one.

8. Let your audience talk

By letting audience members talk, they’ll feel valued. It also gives you chance to take a short break, mentally. Ask members of the audience some direct questions. In this way, you’ll be able to find out how they feel about your topic and the content of your presentation.


Engaging an audience can be challenging, but if you follow these eight strategies, you will be well on keeping your audience interested. Remember to create a connection, use humor, tell stories and vary the pace of delivery. Additionally, paying attention to body language and using rhetorical questions and pauses for effect can go a long way in engaging with your audience. Finally, remember that activities such as polls or quizzes can also help keep interest levels high during presentations. What strategy do you think is the most important to engage an audience? 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

1. What are the 5 steps to captivate the attention of the audience? 

Although there are many ways to lose your audience, following these five steps will help keep their attention focused on you and your message. By being aware of common distractions, preparing ahead of time, using visual aids judiciously, speaking confidently, and making a personal connection with your audience, you can captivate them from beginning to end. 

2. How does a speaker engage the audience? 

A speaker can engage their audience by understanding how the human brain works and using that information to their advantage. Different techniques like Mirroring, Associative Conditioning, and Reciprocity can be used to create a connection with the audience and get them invested in what is being said. However, it is important to use these methods sparingly so as not to come across as manipulative. If a speaker can appeal to how the human brain works, they are more likely to hold their audience's attention and deliver a successful speech. 

3. What are the 3 types of effective attention-getters? 

The 3 effective attention-getters that top the list include humor, stories, anecdotes, and Questions & Interactive Exercises. Once you incorporate these in your interaction, your students can relate to your words.   


Dakota Murphey

Blog Author

Dakota Murphey is a BA (Hons) marketing graduate and independent content writer who specialises in the business and marketing sector. Working alongside audience response system specialists, CLiKAPAD

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