How to catch your audience's attention

Today you are going to learn
how to captivate your audience’s attention. 

Audience's attention

In fact, these guidelines helped me become more confident in my presentation and face my fears. To captivate, first you have to drop an attention getter and then understand your audience.

And why is it so important to captivate your audience’s attention? Because, that way, you will manage to meet their needs and give impact to your speech. 

Let’s get started!



To catch your audience’s attention means to get your audience to listen to your speech from the beginning through ‘attention getters.

And what is an attention getter?

An attention getter is a technique used at the beginning of the speech to grab the audience’s attention and make them stick with your speech until the end.

An attention getter can be funny or serious, sad or happy, but it needs to capture the emotions and curiosity of your audience. You need to find a phrase that will make people think “I want to know more about this”. The most often used ones are questions, stories, or statistics.

Here are some tips that will capture your audience’s attention throughout the presentation. 👇​

TIP #1

Tell a story.

People love stories. 

Why has Netflix succeeded? Easy. They sell stories. Stories that move, that motivate, that frighten, that make your heart beat a mile a minute. Since the beginning of time, human beings have been telling and listening to stories. 

The best advice for any type of communication (not only presentations) is to create stories. If the story is good it will captivate your audience’s attention.

TIP #2

Start off with something

You need to start with something that will impress your audience. Something that will make them say, “What! I need to know more.” You need to create an opening that causes so much shock that people won’t be able to leave without hearing every last detail of the story.

Curiosity drives us to discover more things than we are capable of admitting. Make your audience as curious as possible.


TIP #3

Appeal to emotion.

Believe it or not, emotions are the greatest driving force of human beings. No one is willing to move if it is not for an emotion.

What is your duty then? Touch that emotion in your audience that makes them not want to move from their chair. In the end, we are all the same. We all feel fear, love, sadness, joy, etc. You just have to find a way to reach that emotion and shake it.

TIP #4

Engage to capture your audience's attention.


For this you have to know how to improvise. Involve your audience in your presentation. Look them in the eyes, point at them individually, question them. You can even ask someone to participate in your presentation.

TIP #5

Set up some jokes.

Try to de-stress and don’t take yourself too seriously.

Humour breaks the ice and it will bring you closer to your audience. Your audience will relax and so will you. Use relevant anecdotes and put some intonation into them. The more you practise, the better you’ll get! The audience should understand who you are throughout your presentation.

You’re not the only one who is stressed, so be interesting! Engage, be playful! Control the energy in the room to stay on top of things! Be careful not to be extravagant or arrogant.

You can always check how David Nihill does it:

TIP #6

Be passionate.


No one wants to listen to someone who is not passionate about what they do. You can’t expect to capture the audience’s attention and make them passionate about your speech if you are not passionate about it yourself.

I remember in school that was the main problem for teachers. Which teachers did I learn the most from? From the ones who were passionate about what they were talking about. From the ones who moved around the class, changing their tone of voice, gesticulating. The ones who really conveyed to you why what they were saying was so interesting.

Do the same. Be passionate about what you do.

TIP #7

Move to grab the
audience's attention.

The audience will have to follow you if you are constantly moving. It works really well to keep the audience interested. You may keep the audience on their toes with your movement.

Additionally, it will give off the idea that you are self-assured. You need to attract the attention and communicate to the audience that you are the focal point of the presentation.



Identify your audience.

By asking yourself the right questions and preparing yourself in advance, you will have an idea of who your audience will be. This will make it easier for you to prepare your presentation and speech to increase your chances of success. Obviously, you will prefer a particular type of audience, but you should expect anything.

Here is a list of questions you can ask yourself to be prepared for anything:

  • Does your audience want a handout with key information?
  • Which room should I use for my presentation?
  • In what format is your material usable?
  • What are the difficult points and obstacles?
  • How can I reduce tension?
  • What position should your audience take in your summary?
  • Which are the key words to remember?
  • What are the problems to be solved?
  • How can you show that you are listening and available?
  • What role do they have?
  • Are they there to analyse or to decide?

The first few minutes are crucial to see who you are speaking with.

Types of audience

To make your presentation perfect and as a complement to these tips, you need to know your audience. It is not always easy to know in advance the type of audience you will be facing or how you can start it. 

And you have to approach topics differently to captivate them. Understanding your audience allows you to prepare a certain approach strategy to make your presentation effective and useful! 

There are generally four types of audience. 👇

1) Disinterested public

This is certainly the one we dread the most!

Facing an audience that has no interest in your presentation can be difficult to handle. They will show no enthusiasm and will be indifferent to anything you say. You need to understand why the audience is in this state of mind. Ask yourself the right questions and find out if the problem is with you or the material.

Are you talking about something that really concerns them? Do you have the right approach? To avoid this kind of situation and to feel more confident, you should find out beforehand what kind of person will be attending your presentation.

This way, you will know how to adapt your speech to their needs and you will have a better chance of getting their attention. 

Have a readable and dynamic support

You need time to adapt to your audience.

The time to discover your support, your problems, the orientation you give, what are the key words … give them some time. It will reassure them to see that you are the master of your presentation. Then they will start to understand and adhere to the project. Your slides must be dynamic to stimulate the audience. Whether it is images or videos, it is important not to neglect your preparation. A well thought out presentation is already a start to success because it shows your professionalism and gives confidence. 

The audience will see that they are not dealing with an amateur. Telling a story and using captivating support is a very good way to engage a disinterested audience. 


2) The friendly audience

In contrast to the disinterested audience, there is the friendly audience.

More receptive and pleasant, they will not hesitate to engage with you, whether they agree or not with your proposal. This is often a talkative and engaged audience. The mistake in this kind of situation is to get too comfortable! If you relax too much, your presentation will be softer and therefore have less impact. You will forget to make the important points.

Your audience is nice, but not yet convinced! Take advantage of their interest in you, encourage them to invest in your mission and implement the solutions.

3) Hostile audience

A hostile audience is one that resists your efforts and sets itself against your proposals or against each other. You may be interrupted, tension may rise and the debate may quickly become unmanageable.

Here is a list of reasons why the audience may be hostile if you do not take these considerations into account if:

  • The audience feels you are in over your head and see that you are neglecting important points 
  • They feel that instead of listening to them, you want to tell them what to do
  • The audience feels they are wasting their time listening to you
  • They don’t feel respected
  • You don’t present them with something new and they feel like they’ve seen it all before

To respect your audience, you must listen to them and take their opinions into account in order to address their concerns. Bring them new information that will help them and respect the fact that they are taking their time for you.

Be patient and provide convincing evidence

To adapt your presentation to a hostile audience, you must present several examples.

This way, they will be able to project themselves into the situation more easily and visualise ways to apply your idea. They must find a real interest and know how to take advantage of this situation. There must be THE difference that will change his daily life for the better. The more you understand his expectations, the better you will know how to implement your solutions.

Avoid ambiguity and be objective

Your presentation should be objective and composed of easy-to-understand graphics. Your data should be clear and accurate.

Recognize when your audience has a problem and deal with it. You may have to compromise, but stay on your game by trying to find solutions that fit. Have evidence at hand to support your argument.


4) Uninformed audience

We are talking about an uninformed audience, that is, one that does not have the same breadth of knowledge as you. You will have to educate them before talking about your topic in order to make your presentation enjoyable for everyone. Here, you must have an easy to understand speech.

You are an expert and you bring valuable content. The audience wants to learn new things and if they see that you are going to bring them something new, they will be immediately interested and engaged.

Not everyone has the same knowledge

Some people in the room will have more knowledge than others.

So you need to provide as much information as possible so that everyone is on the same page. Then you can get into the details with their full attention.

  • The visuals will help you move forward and are there to support your speech by offering additional information.
  • The key words will help the audience go in the right direction and you will be able to lighten your speech.
  • It is important to pause to avoid filling them with too much information.
  • A Powerpoint presentation as a complement to your oral presentation shows that you have taken the time to prepare yourself and to set up an expertise.
  • Your personal experiences and anecdotes will show that your solutions are effective.When the audience understands this, they will understand why you are there and what your goal is.

Make sure they leave with all the information they need to take the next steps with you.

Now it's your turn!

The important thing to remember is to be prepared for the unexpected so that you feel comfortable no matter what. The disinterested audience will have a hard time finding interest in your approach. You will need to make a connection with them before you make your presentation.

With a friendly audience you will immediately feel more relaxed and less pressured. However, be careful to stay focused and bring all the powerful elements of your argument.
With a hostile audience, you must be as objective as possible. Find out why they are under tension and how to show them that you are open to discussion.

Finally, you must demonstrate your skills and expertise to an uninformed audience by providing them with all the necessary elements so that everyone understands, on the same level, the meaning of your speech. Also, you can use our tips to create a great attention-getter at the beginning of our presentation.

And if you need to know more about presentation design, you can always check our portfolio or read our last article about how to reduce text on presentations!

I hope you enjoyed this article!

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