3 Ways to Keep the Audience Hanging on Your Every Word

Public speaking is a lot like email marketing. It’s a way to inspire action, garner attention, and create a remarkable connection with your audience through your words.

That’s why AWeber is teaming up with Michael Port, New York Times bestselling author of Steal the Show and co-founder of Heroic Public Speaking, to offer a 3-part webinar series focused on helping nail your next speech, interview, pitch, or email. Port will tell you how to captivate and engage your audience — whether they’re listening to you on a podcast, reading your email, or watching you on stage.

In the first webinar of the 3-part webinar series — How to Crush Every Speaking Gig You Land — Port shares 2 of the biggest mistakes new speakers make and the 5 elements of the world’s greatest speeches. Here are 3 key takeaways from his presentation that you can apply to your own email marketing strategy.

Write first, design second

We often fall into the trap of focusing on how our presentation or email will look before creating the actual content. What we don’t realize is that by doing this, we hurt our ability to create a powerful, motivating message, says Port. By focusing on design first, we put ourselves inside a self-imposed box, limiting our potential to get to the heart of the big idea we are trying to convey, and what we want the audience to think, feel, and do, he explains.

Port recommends resisting the temptation to focus on your presentation’s, website’s, or email’s design. Instead, start with the content and what you want your audience to think or feel, and what you want them to do. Then you can focus on which templates and images to use to support your message.

Rehearse the right way

Most new speakers don’t really rehearse, says Port. They usually run through their speech or pitch in their own head, perhaps muttering some sentences under their breath. When it comes time to give the speech, however, they’re not dialed in to the content. They don’t know the content well enough to recall it in the moment, explains Port.

If you want to nail your speech, you need to rehearse, rehearse, and rehearse some more.

The same goes for your email. You’d never walk up on stage without practicing your speech — and you shouldn’t send an email without practicing, either.

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Always test your email before you hit send. Is the content appearing correctly on different Internet Service Providers, like Gmail, Yahoo!, or Outlook? How does your subject line and preheader text appear on mobile? Are your images rendering correctly? Are your links right?

Related: Don’t Crash and Burn! 3 Ways to Test Your Email before Hitting Send

With anything you create, whether it’s a speech, presentation, website, or email, it’s important to  gather feedback before you go “live.” Even if it’s just friends, family, or coworkers. As you get feedback, you’ll learn what works and what doesn’t, and you can make tweaks before you get up on stage or send your email to your entire subscriber list.

Picture yourself in underwear

Have you ever heard this advice? “Picture your audience in their underwear.” Port says this is a mistake.

“The truth of the matter is, it’s the performer who’s naked,” Port explains. “That’s why [speaking is] anxiety provoking. Our role is actually the one to be naked.”

One of the best ways to increase the level of your performance and create an strong connection with your audience is to demonstrate vulnerability when speaking. “A speech has nothing to do with you. It’s never about you,” he says. “It’s about the audience and what you’re getting them to think, feel, or do.”

Related: How to Get Free Media Attention for Your Small Business

Port encourages you to strip away your armor — a.k.a. your internal judgement about the way people perceive you — to truly connect with your audience. Take down the barrier. After all, you’re not there for the audience’s approval, he says. You’re there to serve the audience.

You should follow the same rule when writing emails to your subscribers. Serve them. Address their biggest pain point and offer them a solution. But don’t pretend to be someone else in your emails. Or be boring or bland.

The best email marketers have their own tone, look, and feel — and they don’t waver from it. They’re true to themselves. They’re authentic. And their subscribers love them for it.


  1. scriptbaron

    8/7/2018 1:51 am

    Hey Brandon, Wonderful post and very informative 🙂

  2. Johnathan Weberg

    8/7/2018 3:49 pm

    One of the other best ways to keep attention is in breaking up your speech, changing your tone to a whisper, and to truly use passion.

    Often I listen, to other speakers, and hear them speak but it’s neither natural, and it sounds like rehearsed jargon.

    Scripts are great, and often the reason for this, but even with a script you can add true passion and the authenticity so many people want to hear!

    Great post, great tips, keep them coming!