Anchoring your Audience

Comedian (film)
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One of the little known concepts of public speaking is anchoring. Think of anchoring as a way to “mark your territory” as you speak. The act of repeatedly using that anchor helps your audience remember what you say.

Simply put, anchoring is when you stand at a specific location when making the same point. To illustrate, let’s say that you are presenting a new business plan for the evolution of your company. You need to explain where the company came from, where it is now, and where it is headed.

To do so, pick three spots on the floor: one on your right, one in the middle, and one on your left. Let’s call them A, B, and C respectively. To anchor your words, stand in spot A when you speak about the past, pick spot B when speaking of the present, and spot C when speaking of the future.

As you can tell, this is very similar to the way you would present the information on a chart. The past finances appear on the left side of the chart and the future on the right side of the chart. The same can be true of the words you say.

Anchoring does not need to be spatial only. It can be vocal or gestural. You can choose to repeat the same gesture when you say the same words. You can also pick the same voice when saying the same words. You will notice that standup comedians do this often in order to get a laugh.

Anchoring is not natural to most of us. You need to make a conscious effort to use it effectively and it requires practice to make it look natural.

When used properly, anchoring can be a powerful device to convince and inspire an audience.

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