How To Keep Audience Attention! Look At Me!

Don’t Try So Hard

Trying too hard at anything is tiring. Battling to keep audience attention is exhausting. And people, well we can just be perverse. If an audience knows you desperately want their attention, they will likely choose to not give you any.

Don’t try so hard. Who ever said speaking with people had to be hard work? Now I’m not suggesting you don’t put in any effort. Just stop trying to force people to listen to you. Instead, give them a choice and something worth listening to – you! Below is a list of Do’s and Don’ts and a top 5 summary of things to do to keep audience attention.

I explain further in this 3 minute video, designed to be distractingly over-the-top. In other words, DON’T prepare a scene like the one in my video – it’s meant to be a joke:


Do’s and Don’ts To Keep Audience Attention


  • Pause and take a breath with your audience before you start. This gives people time to give you their attention, rather than you forcing it upon them.
  • Establish credibility and expertise – either through an introduction or subject knowledge.
  • Be fully present and focussed, not thinking about dinner afterwards or lost in self criticism.
  • Be original – get comfortable in your own skin and know what’s different about you.
  • Make things simple. Use simple language, gestures and paint pictures with words.
  • Focus on 1 main message and repeat it, spelling out the impact, benefits and actions required.


  • Assume – research your audience and ask them conversationally if you are on track.
  • Forget to introduce yourself – people like to know who you are and what you offer.
  • Talk too fast and fill every space – people need time to process your ideas.
  • Give too much information – it can be overwhelming and cluttered.
  • Regurgitate and use cliches – it’s insulting and boring.

Summary: 5 Things To Remember

  1. Let go of “trying” and just “be”.
  2. Establish trust and rapport first and invite attention without force.
  3. Interact constantly with your audience, just like a one on one conversation.
  4. Tailor your message to every audience to help them understand “what’s in it for me”.
  5. Offer valuable, original and customised information and deliver it with natural authenticity.

Trust me, if you do these 5 things, you will powerfully maintain people’s attention every time you speak.

© 2012, Geraldine Barkworth, authentic speaking coach. This article is the opinion of the author only.

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