Discover how you can hold a room spellbound using just your voice and these 4 techniques (yes, it works every time)

Hold A Room Captive Using These 4 Techniques

I remember the first time I was really failed at public speaking.

I had won the local Spelling Bee in eighth grade. I would be representing Central Pennsylvania at the Scripps Howard Nationals in Washington DC.

The TV station shoved a mic in my face as the winner. I blathered out words my mom had fed me.

It was awful.

Today, its a very different story. I make a living speaking in public and teach others to do so too.

This article in the BBC about why “live concerts make people emotional” may have nailed it for me.

  1. A group of researchers at the University of Zurich had professional pianists play for 27 different nonmusicians.

  2. The people listening to the music had their brain activity monitored at the same time.

  3. For the live songs, the pianists were told to change how loudly they played and also how quickly they played depending on what each participant’s brain activity looked like, to affect the listener’s emotions even more.

  4. The live recitals [stimulated listeners’ brains] more than when they just listened to recordings—specifically in the amygdala, the brain’s emotional center.

  5. The researchers pointed out that in live performances, musicians can riff on their songs to engage directly with the audience, which creates a feedback loop that you can’t get with recordings.

Here are 3 ways I “riff” to command a room


#1 PERSONALIZE I have asked the attendees in the past to fill out a form ahead of time, sharing. This way, I know way more about each person's motivation for attending. Questions I ask include:

  • What’s a goal right now?

  • Why hasn’t she achieved it yet?

  • When does she want to achieve it by?

  • What resource is she missing?


#2 BE JERRY MAGUIRE. WALK THE ROOM Before taking the stage, and during the cocktail hour, Ill walk around and introduce myself. This way I can call folks out by name during my talk.


#3 PRE-INTERVIEW PANELISTS If I'm moderating a panel, I pre-interview each panelist, to

  • Understand if they are a talker, or need to be pushed to speak

  • Establish points the audience would definitely want to hear

  • Call on the person who has the best experience to answer an audience question, based on my pre interview



We live in an overstimulated world. Go silent and watch what happens. This takes confidence to leverage, but try it.


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