ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Speaking Tips: Public Speaking Getting the Audience's Attention

Updated on September 15, 2020
Tusitala Tom profile image

Tom is a Master Storyteller who has been enthralling audiences with his stories for well over forty years. He is an accomplished presenter.

It takes years, but it really is worth the effort

Tom in action - putting pictures in the minds of his listeners

The writer entertaining an audience of around a hundred retirees at the Ryde-Eastwood Leagues Club, Sydney, February 17th 2010
The writer entertaining an audience of around a hundred retirees at the Ryde-Eastwood Leagues Club, Sydney, February 17th 2010

Public Speaking and the Circle of Self-Interest

Welcome to this segment of Speaking Tips: Public Speaking Getting the Audience's Attention, and, in particular the concept of the Circle of Self Interest. Managing the getting the audience's attention is only part of it, of course. Keeping it right throughout the the presentation is the real challenge.

It is essential, when conducting a presentation of any sort where you are trying to persuade an audience that you are aware of this Circle of Self Interest. But first of all let me explain it by way of analogy.

Let us assume that you are sitting at home about to open and read your sunday newspaper. You're comfortably ensconced in your favourite chair enjoying the sunshine on your balcony. Around you birds call songfully in the trees, bees hum in a nearby flowering bush and from afar off there comes the strains of some very gentle nature music. You're lying relaxed and feeling at peace. No work today.

Then you open the newspaper and start to read...

The writer presenting an story to an audience in Hong Kong in 2015

Getting the audience's attention when it's out beyond the outer circle

Your eyes fall upon the words, "Huge explosion in outer space," followed by some astromonical data that a distant sun blew up a hundred light years ago. You take this in- and then dismiss it. It is of no consequence. That there might have been a dozen earth-type sattelites circulating the sun and a trillion sentient being might have died, doesn't even cross you mind. This piece of news was way out beyond the circle of you self interest.

Next, your read that there has been a huge earthquake in South America. It just so happens that that part of South America is thousands of miles away from where you live, and you know no one in that continent anyway. You are vaguely stirred. "Terrible tragedy" and such words cross your mind, "fourteen hundred lives lost, hundreds of thousands homeless." Still, you're not that concerned. This piece of news was right out on the periphery of your circle of self interest.


A fairly recent photo of a Master Storyteller in action

A slightly tighter circle

But what really catches your eye is the news of a bushfire raging in the very state you live. Why, it's only a couple of hundred miles away. You start to read. Still, you are not that concerned. You feel sorry for the people. No doubt a state of emergency will be declared and the public will be asked to donate to various assisting charities. Yes, you'll send a cheque for a few dollars to help out.   After all they are my people.

In the above instance the Circle of Self interest is still way out there. It doesn't involve you personally.

Then you hear a knock on the door. You get up and go around the side of the house to answer it. It's Fred, the neigbour next door.

"Jack. I just saw a fellow running out of your open garage. I think he might have stolen something."


Suddenly you are very interested. You could say that you'r rivvetted by this news.


Speaking tips: In getting the audience's attention, the circle of self interest is now very tight

Because the circle of self interest is now very tight indeed. This is your garage! You might have had something stolen - you!

Can you see what is being got at here? A trillion life forms light years away means nothing. Even 1400 killed, thousands injured and a hundred thousand homeless has less interest to you than the mere possibility that you might have lost something, had something stolen.

So what does this mean in presenting a persuasive speech?  

I think it is pretty obvious. When you want to interest an audience, particularly if you want them to take some sort of action: appeal to their self-interest. Go to the very heart of their circle of self interest. Don't muck around in the outer circles. Go to the centre. Talk about their life, their family, their possessions, their future.

If your talking statistics, mention them in such a way that they indentify with those statistics. If you're talking about relationships, use relationships they can identify with. Get into their hearts as well as their minds. Affect their emotions! Get them identifying with self- their self -or at least their ego self

Do this, and you'll have them coming from the very centre of their circle of self interest. And if you can get them doing this, you'll have their attention all right - they'll be rivvetted!

So, to reiterate: In getting the audience's attention and keeping it, bear in mind always, the Circle of Self Interest and keep your own presentation aimed at their centre.

Good luck.




This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)