One of the best ways to get known and be an influence in your field is to share your expertise by speaking at live events. But to be effective, you must connect with your audience.

As TEDx Mile High Speaker Coach, Karen Susman says, today's audiences are distracted, have shorter attention spans, refuse to be talked at, and are used to being entertained.

Whether you're speaking on the latest technology or the benefits of meditation, connect and embrace your audience. Keep them involved from your first words until your last.

Karen shared the following 12 tips to show you how.

  1. Know your audience and create your program to meet their needs. Remember, it's always about the audience.
  2. Ask rhetorical questions. This is a risk free way for audience members to participate since they don't have to volunteer the answer. For instance, "Have you ever wanted to be a more effective speaker?"
  3. Ask the audience to think about an idea or to imagine something – this immediately engages the brain.
  4. Use your body to involve your audience. Move closer to the audience. Walk into the audience if you can. Open your arms wide as if to embrace them. Use a sweeping gesture. This works even if there are 1000 audience members.
  5. Maintain eye contact. Once you break eye contact, you lose them. So, don't read from your slides or notes. Glance. Look up and out. Connect with your eyes. Then speak.
  6. Have the audience write something down. For instance, estimate and write down the number of times you will go to the ATM in the next year. Estimate how many interruptions you have in a day.
  7. Have a conversation with each person or section of the audience.
  8. Have them write down a response and then share it with the person next to them. By writing it down first, it's easier to share.
  9. If audience energy wanes, get them up and interacting. A quick stretch break works.
  10. Do something unexpected. I saw a speaker have each person write down a tip on paper. The paper then was folded into a paper airplane. The airplanes sailed around the room. Then the tips were shared.
  11. Ask an audience member to be your scribe. He or she records audience responses on a flip chart or white board. This allows you to maintain eye contact and keep the ball rolling. It also is a great way to keep a heckler busy.
  12. Summarize early and often. Ask the audience to summarize your main points.

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Susan Regier, owner of Vantage One Writing, is an in-demand copywriter, marketing strategist, and business breakthrough specialist to serious entrepreneurs who want to have a profitable business they are passionate about. She has the uncanny ability to find the hidden gems in a business that can ignite sales and profits for her clients. Claim your free guide: 15 Tips to Increase Your Influence, Attract More Clients & Make More Money at SusanRegier.com.