Audience engagement via quotes and questions…

By Steven Jasper Cox

How many people do you think have heard the quote “One small step for man, one giant leap for man kind” or the famous words “I have a dream”?

This week at Parramatta Toastmasters meeting #1207 “Talented Table Topics” many memorable moments were fashioned. The evening was full of education and scholarship as one after another men and women partook in the table topics educational facilitated by Elizabeth and Gary Wilson. These participants set about following a few simple guidelines to aid them in their quest of becoming better impromptu speakers. With the clubs competition only weeks away the tip that stood out to me was “Be Different”. We were told that many people respond to table topics in a similar way and that the best way to be in with a win was to stand out from the norm. 

That being said one of the main attention grabbing aspect of the night were the countless new and recycled quotes that were being thrown around the room. Some were revived from brilliant minds of the past while others were coined on the spot by members of our Toastmasters family. 

Why do quotes work? Because you don’t have too… there are many things that are pre programed into people’s brains with or without their knowledge or consent. Take some cheesy pop song lyrics for example. Whether people like to admit it or not they probably know all the lyrics or at least the tune to “Baby” by Justin Bieber regardless of their music preference, age or sex. That record was blasted consciously and subliminally into our minds due to the mass exposure all using the principle of repetition, repetition, repetition. Ever thought why a song that you initially dislike grows on you the more you hear it…? 

In my opinion the sad truth is that most audiences are self-absorbed and are only interested in what it is that you can provide them with. People don’t want to think about or solve a problem while listening to a presentation. Our attention spans are short and continuously getting shorter and our lives are busy. We live in a world of instant recall where Google is king. Why would we read a book when we can learn from YouTube or Ted, read a blog or scan through Tweets?

Our mission as a presenters and leaders is to engage our audience long enough to create a spark of interest. From there it is up to them to find or seek further information. Remember this while preparing your future presentations if you wish to create a successful connection with your audience.  Educate, Engage, Excite and Entertain with questions and quotes.

*The following are some of the quotes that stood out during the meeting

  • “The last of human freedoms – the ability to choose one’s attitude in a given set of circumstances”. Viktor E. Frankl
  • “Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food” Hippocrates
  • “Do something you love and believe in and success will come”. Garry Wilson (accepting award for website and I.T services)
  • “Let your child break out in Biz environments” Peter Steinhour (Table topics session)

The following were all generously donated by the modern day philosopher Malkit Banwait

  • “Good health makes sense not dollars”
  • “Stop living like patients start living like people”
  • “You are your best doctor” 
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