Soccer has the World Cup. Football has the Superbowl. And Toastmasters International has an international speaking competition, of course. What does it take to win? A lot. But it helps to start strong–a common mistake made by many speakers:
Qahtani starts his speech with a sight gag, pretending to consider lighting up a cigarette before the audience’s reaction convinces him not to. He transitions from this into a sober defense of the tobacco industry before saying, straight-faced, that all of the facts and figures he cited were made up. The audience then roars with laughter.”When you get an audience laughing, you’ve got them on your side,” Qahtani says.However you choose to engage an audience, by getting them to laugh, cheer, gasp, or any other emotional reaction, it’s important to get them on your side from the beginning. Qahtani says it can be easy for a speaker to forget that an audience wants a performer to do well and is waiting to be entertained.
Want to improve your own public speaking skills? Start with these TED talks from Julian Treasure, Joe Kowan, Melissa Marshall, and others–recommended to help you overcome stage fright, lead others to greatness, and explain complex ideas to the masses.