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Public Speaking 

Holding an Audience in the Palm of Your Hand

Most of us who deliver presentations on a regular basis are familiar with the theory of how to give captivating talks. Be dynamic, articulate, engaging. Relate to the audience, use examples and interactivity. The buzz words are as old as the hills. Putting such advice into practice however, is another matter altogether when you're standing on the stage.

According to Ivor Smith of Fifth Dimension however, there are a number of more fundamental points to remember when it comes to presenting, which are easier to employ and can make the difference between an audience which is fully engaged and one which is watching the clock. Ivor has ten years experience in delivering presentations and workshops and he reveals some of the tactics he employs to help him hold his audience in the palm of his hand:

Tell a Story

Humans are innately wired for stories. We are told stories as children and then read novels as adults. Stories tend to prompt an emotional response from the listener and are therefore a great way in which to engage an audience for lengthy time periods. Most stories will involve case studies which serve as examples to which a presenter can refer in order to inject life into their subject and make it more compelling.

Build a rapport

Developing a relationship with your audience is key to keeping them interested. The prospect of establishing a relationship with a bunch of strangers may seem challenging at first but it is achievable. Although the relationship wont be the kind you're used to enjoying with friends and family, appealing to a range of gestures, tones of voice, and humour, in addition to using plenty of eye contact, will ensure that you set up a sense of trust and mutual respect that will make the presentation more personal for each member of the audience and therefore more engaging.

Develop your emotional intelligence The concept of emotional intelligence, or 'EQ', is still relatively new, but it is becoming increasingly recognised as a useful resource when it comes to empathising with your audience. The term refers to an ability to be intuitive and perceptive; those with high emotional intelligence are good at putting themselves in the position of others and as a result, tend to be high achievers. Their ability to predict others behaviour and understand their motivations gives them an advantage when it comes to working with people. The good news is that, although most of us are unable to increase our IQ, EQ can most certainly be learned, and its inclusion into your presentation toolkit will make a difference on many fronts.

Variety is key

Ensuring that your talk is full of variety is also very important. However, what many presenters often forget is that this is true as much for the delivery as the subject matter itself. Introduce changes to your tone of voice and the mood of delivery, to reveal the range of speaker types within you. The passionate speaker radiates energy and infectious enthusiasm for example, an effect which tends to rub off on their audience. The analytical speaker on the other hand, gains credibility by relaying information in a clear, concise manner - perfect for demonstrating expertise but be wary of indulging this mode for too long as it can become boring for listeners. In addition to appealing to the auditory senses, incorporating visual aids into your talk such as props, eye-catching Powerpoint images or magic, will also help to further engage and stimulate the audience. The point is to be able to incorporate all the different types of presenting skills and props into your presentation and use them flexibly, so that the audience are constantly entertained! Bill Duncan, Ivor Smith and Jeff Burns of Fifth Dimension have more than 50 years collective experience as professional entertainers and magicians and use Magically Enhanced TrainingTM to ensure that messages are remembered long after an event has finished.

For further information about Fifth Dimensions innovative approach telephone 01224 706755 or 07764 793897, email or visit

Updated February 20, 2007