One of the most important aspects of any leadership position is effective public speaking. Whether you address your team in one office or thousands at a conference, you need to actively engage your audience, hold their attention, and deliver your message. There is not one single strategy for doing this. There are many different angles and elements you must master to become an effective speaker.

Unfortunately for you, and just about any other speaker, your audience has a habit of not making that easy. Even when they pay to be there, even when they know what you have to say will help them, most audiences are set on “passive” or “bored” unless you do something about it. They will come into the room, slouch down in their seats and set their brains on “receive” … though their body language and attention lacks any meaningful commitment to that sentiment.

The simplest way to keep your audience engaged is to turn your speech into a conversation. Make them part of the action. Instead of a send-receive relationship, you now have a two-way dynamic. Not only are they receiving, but they are also participating in the action.

One very successful method to make this happen is to turn the audience into interviewers. Give them a chance to ask questions. Don’t just deliver a long speech and set time for questions at the end. Instead, stop to allow for questions at various points within the speech. Never warn them the question times are coming.

Simply let them know you will be taking questions, and surprise them. When you tell people exactly when to listen, human nature – and smartphones – dictate this is only when they will listen. Keep that time frame uncertain and they will stay alert.

Another way to interact and hold attention is to tell stories. Humans are wired to better hear and retain information if it is told in story format. When delivering news or lessons, avoid jargon and stick to the story of how it happened – and, whenever possible, make you audience part of the narrative. Whether they get to be a star or play a supporting role, everyone loves to be part of happily ever after.