Public Speaking Skill: How to Grab Your Audience by Their Corpuscles and Wake Them Up!

by Allan Kaufman and Allan Misch

Get Your Audience’s Attention

All eyes are upon you. Tension fills the air. Your audience awaits your first words. So what should you do? You cut the tension and “break the ice” confidently and powerfully. You grab their attention, get them leaning forward with anticipation, and make them feel that they’re going to get what they came for. How do you do that? First…

Pause dramatically for a few seconds.

Lean forward slightly. Make eye contact with some in your audience. Smile if you’ll be starting on a light note. Feel the exchange of energy between you and your audience. Then begin to get your audience’s by using one of these strategies…

Tell a memorized personal anecdote or short story that introduces your message.

Use visually descriptive words that cause your audience to experience emotional shifts that are congruent with the emotional aspect of your message, or…

Relate a memorized personalized joke or humorous story that ties into your thesis.

This builds rapport rapidly and gets your audience into a “I want to hear more” mood. Keep it short and don’t introduce it by saying, “I want to start by telling you a joke [story].” Just get into it, or…

Make a shocking or unexpected memorized statement, pause and look at your audience.

For example, “I made ten thousand dollars on the phone last night in my polka dot PJs… legally.” (Pause and look.) “I’m going to tell you exactly how I did it and how you can do it too.” or…

Ask a memorized rhetorical, involvement question.

Then hold up your hand and wait for your audience to raise their hands. For example, “How many of you work for a living?” or “How many of you sell?” You accomplish four things by doing this.

  1. You get your audience’s attention.
  2. You put your audience in a positive emotional state with a YES answer.
  3. By following your lead and raising their hands, your audience demonstrates their rapport with you.
  4. They get involved physically in your presentation, or…

Cast your premise into a memorized “would you rather” question with a predetermined answer.

For example, “Would you rather be working your own business, making your own decisions, choosing your own hours, making a six-figure income, or be working at a job 8 to 10 hours a day building your boss’s dream? (Pause) Today we’ll discuss how you can develop your own business, be in control of your own life, and build your own dream.”

An attention-grabbing opening is critical for presentation success. Memorize your opening to insure a flawless delivery. Use a strong pause. Tell a descriptive story that moves your audience emotionally. Do or say something unexpected. Ask a thesis-related question that involves your audience either physically or emotionally. Launch your presentation with one or more of these strategies and you’ll get your audience’s attention. You’ll grab them by their corpuscles and wake them up!


©Allan Kaufman and Allan Misch, 2003-2013. All rights reserved. The authors give permission to reproduce this article; disseminate it; publish it in print, electronic form and on a website as long as it is not edited and carries the byline and contact information.

Allan and Allan help business professionals reduce or eliminate public speaking fear, performance anxiety, stage fright, and other performance blocks rapidly and enhance presentation skills. They offer 4 valuable, complimentary videos on “10 Critical Strategies to Make Your Presentation Slides More Memorable” and public speaking tips in their complimentary No Sweat Speaking™ newsletter. Get it at

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