by Megan Jewell

I have always been intrigued by how a person can captivate an audience. You go to a play and are enthralled by the actors on the stage. They have a way of drawing you into their world. You see a dance concert, and you are taken to a different place as the story is told through movement. Isn’t it amazing that even if we don’t necessarily enjoy what is taking place, we can’t help but watch? What is it about those people who have the ability to paralyze us? Do they have a special gift, a super power that only a select few receive? Absolutely not!

Carmine Gallo is a California-based corporate-presentation coach and a former Emmy- award-winning TV journalist. He touches on how to give a captivating “No-Yawn” Speech. His focus in a Business Week article is on trade shows and how to grab the audience while competing with numerous booths and vendors trying to sell their business. The tips can be used for grabbing the attention of companies as well. As Gallo mentions in the article, “The benefits of speaking at a trade show are numerous, especially for small-business owners…it helps raise the visibility of the speaker as a thoughtful leader in his or her particular industry and position the company as important in its market.”

Below are some quick and helpful tips to charm your audience:

  • Grab listeners from the start. Audiences tend to remember the first and last things you say.
  • Show enthusiasm, passion and energy. Many people lose their enthusiasm when speaking to audiences. Sometimes it is nerves, but many fear that they will look “over the top” or that they are showing “too much” passion. By being passionate you excite your audience.
  • Lose the notes. This does not mean you can never glance at notes. Keep in mind that reading and glancing are two different things. Great speakers have mastery over their notes, and use them only as a reminder to jog their memories.
  • Tell, don’t sell. Speakers are chosen for a reason. The committee chooses people whom they believe will offer information that their attendees will find new, useful, and instructive. Great speakers refer to their company or community once and only once.

What’s the point? You may ask. You can gain a great return on your investment from positioning yourself and your company as an expert in the field. If the audience has genuine interest, they’ll approach you afterward, or visit your website.

  • Be animated in voice and gesture. Don’t stand behind a podium. Walk, gesture, and vary your vocal delivery. You can stage your presence. Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle, is a great example. He stops to emphasize a point. He walks across the stage, addressing different parts of the room. He will walk faster or slower at times. It makes his speech much more interesting for the audience to watch.

A last piece of advice is “Teach the audience something it didn’t know before. If you do, you’ll leave a lasting impression.”

Take these tips when you pitch to a company at your next trade show, or when you are taking a prospective client through your town. Know that you are teaching your audience something new. Familiarize them with your area and share your confidence that their company and your community will be a great fit.

Source: Gallo, Carmine. “Secrets of No-Yawn Speeches”. www.businessweek.com. ¬© 2005