Mastering the Art of Public Speaking: Keeping Your Audience Engaged During Your Presentation

By Spence Finlayson

NASSAU, Bahamas – As an international motivational speaker and corporate trainer, it is vitally important for me to keep my audience engaged fully during my presentation. I have seen some speakers totally lose their audience and continue to speak.

Over my 30 years as a much sought -after motivational speaker, I have developed a number of techniques to keep my audience fully engaged.

Temperature Check

My favorite technique to take the temperature to see how my speech is being received is to just ask ‘how are we doing?” and they invariably say ‘great go on”. Now I know I am on the right track.

When I am speaking I make a point to move around the room a lot giving eye contact to a large percentage of the room.

Calling on people by name

From my early days as a motivational speaker, I was hired often to be the Master of Ceremonies for weddings and other functions.

During a wedding ceremony held at the Sheraton Grand Hotel on Paradise Island, I found myself in an awkward position, I had already told all of my jokes and there was a lot of ‘dead time “ so I came up with a thing called, recognizing local celebrities in the audience.

Well this became such a hit, persons were complaining to me that I did not call their names.

I learned an important lesson from this and its that people love to hear their names call out publicly and to be recognized. So I use this same technique during my speaking engagements. I call out members of the audience names …..It works like a charm every time and it keeps them engaged.

Time Check

One of my other techniques is to see how well I am being received and if the audience is still with me , is to say” wow, I don’t have much time left “ and they normally say ‘ no you go right ahead, we are enjoying this .” Well, after getting that validation from my audience, I am just ready to continue rock and roll.

To keep your audience engaged you must be fully conversant with your subject matter. I don’t write out speeches anymore, I use bullet points that I can easily see from the lectern.

You see a written speech for me will keep me tied to that speech and I won’t be able to interact with my audience.

After I am introduced, depending on the size of my audience, I ask members to share them name and organizations that they work for. I am able to talk a little bit about the origin of their names and the country of their birth. So when I am speaking, I drop their names in my presentation periodically which makes them feel good and engaged.

Humor and Storytelling

I believe in adding humor and lots of storytelling in my presentation.

People can only sit for so long and listen to a speaker share statistics or facts at them. As children growing up most people heard stories, whether at bed time or other occasions, so tell a few stories to lively up your presentation.

Tell your stories with the requisite passion and energy, Over the years I have perfected many personal stories.

Just recently, I was conducting a seminar for a law firm in the Bahamas and the senior attorney kept saying to me “man you have a lot of good stories.”  Before the session was over one of the managers said publicly ‘we have to do this again.”

Getting the Audience Involved

I also like to get my audience involved, by having them read some material for the entire class or ask for the opinions.

One of the downsides I have heard about listening to a sermon is that you can’t ask any questions, just sit and take in what is being said.

People love to ask questions and participate. So get them to do something during your presentation.

Additionally, I come to my presentations, pumped up and fully motivated. If I don’t bring the excitement and inspiration, then my audience will just sit there and fall asleep or look outside of the room totally disinterested.

Build audience involvement by making your subject matter immediate and personal. I also use concrete examples and illustrations to drive home my point.

A few days ago I appeared on our local radio station ZNS in the Bahamas on a religious program and the host allowed me to speak extemporaneously for 10 minutes.

Well, I shared two powerful stories about faith in such an entertaining way and the next morning I received a number of calls from listeners who thoroughly enjoyed my presentation.

Finally, when I speak I ask God to speak through me before I take the stage. From then on I am under the anointing. To God Be The Glory!!

Master Motivator Spence Finlayson - Mastering the Art of Public Speaking: Keeping Your Audience Engaged During Your Presentation

Spence Finlayson

Spence M  Finlayson, is an international conference speaker and the Founder & CEO of Master Motivator Spence Finlayson Speakers Academy. He is  a much sought after motivational speaker and has spoken in over 26 Foreign countries with 30 years experience. He can be reached at 242-677-0418 or by email at

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