You have been there.  I have been there.  We all have been there.

The speaker is introduced; he tells a tired old joke, quotes several authorities, reads his notes, reads his PowerPoint slides, accepts the audience’s polite applause and sits down.

His problem was that he never engaged the audience.

When I speak, I want to engage my audience.  Surely, you do too.  I remind myself that I am not there to speak to the audience; I am there to attract and hold their attention, so I can deliver a message and motivate them to put the enlightenment into practice.

To engage my audience, I use three Es.

I want to Entertain, Enlighten and Encourage those people who are willing to offer me their time and attention for a few minutes.


Everyone likes to be entertained.  Even when I am delivering a serious message, I try to be entertaining.

Give the audience an opportunity to smile and laugh.  People enjoy humor but hate stale jokes.  There are two reasons I don’t tell jokes. I am not a good joke teller, and I do not want to tell a joke the audience has heard recently.  You have probably heard a speaker tell the same joke that someone else told just a few hours earlier.

It is easy to work humorous comments into a presentation.  People like them best when the speaker is the object of the humor.  They do not like for speakers to embarrass individuals.

I maintain eye contact with individuals and speak directly to several people during my presentations.  I often ask unserious questions.

I have found that using facial expressions and body language can make humorous words even more effective.  Fluctuations in volume and tone of voice also help keep the audience entertained and engaged.


Unless you are an entertainer, you will be speaking to enlighten or educate your audience.  For me, enlightenment is the purpose of my presentations.  If I don’t impart knowledge, I have wasted my audience’s valuable time.

A long time ago, I learned that my audience will not remember much of what I say.  To help them remember what I say, I use stories.

The best way to educate or enlighten an audience is with stories.

I only tell my stories.  Stories like jokes are often repeated.  No speaker can be certain that the audience didn’t hear someone else’s story yesterday or earlier the same day.  I will not deliver a stale story because I am the only person who can tell my story.

The most engaging stories are those where the person listening can visualize him/herself as the main character of the story.  For that reason, I only tell true stories. Most of them are about when I was young.  I want the audience to think about a situation in his/her life when he/she had a similar experience.

When you put your audience in the stories, they will remember the point of your message. You will have enlightened or educated them, and they will remember the main points of your message.


It is not enough to impart knowledge.  The audience must be encouraged to use that knowledge.

This is the most important objective of presentations.

To motivate and encourage the audience, I emphasize the benefits of using what I have shared.  It’s my response to that old commonplace question, “What’s in it for me?”

As part of sharing the “what,” I want to make sure that I clearly communicate the “why.”

I want every person in the audience to be thinking, “This will benefit me and will work for me.”  My objective is to motivate them to get started at once.

Finally, I use the three Es of Entertain, Enlighten and Encourage because I want the people in my audience to have a good time and be glad they were there!

How about you?

Jimmy Collins

P.S. Like this story?  Want to learn more? Check out Jimmy’s Stories on Amazon.