If you want to deliver a successful presentation, it’s important to build a rapport with your audience and find ways to connect with them. One way to do this is by involving them in the delivery of your talk. When audiences simply sit and listen for a length of time, it can be easy for them to lose focus and they will begin to feel distanced from the speaker. In order to engage fully with the audience, the presentation needs to be energetic, purposeful, and even interactive. When you make the audience part of the presentation, it keeps their interest and allows you to deliver a more powerful and memorable presentation. Here are a few strategies for implementing audience participation.
Ask Great Questions
This might seem simple enough, but most people who attend a presentation are expecting to be talked to and they seldom get the chance to share their own thoughts. When you open with a few questions, it brings the audience into the presentation by allowing them to voice their opinions. The first time you ask a question you might have to wait a few seconds for someone to be brave enough to answer, but usually, this will break the ice and others will follow suit. Be sure and ask questions that most people will be able to answer. For example, you could say, “What is your favorite meal?” or “Can anyone share about their most recent shopping experience?” Also, clarify whether or not your question is rhetorical by starting with something like, “Who in this room…” You can also involve the audience by asking them for a show of hands. This is a great way to involve everyone in the room at the same time.
If you have a larger audience, live polling can be a great way to get them involved. There are plenty of audience response apps that can be used to enhance audience participation and engagement. These apps also have live results displays so you can see the results in real-time and use the information to further discuss your topic.
It is impossible to eliminate cell phones and other devices during a presentation because it’s just the world we live in today. Therefore, don’t fight against the devices for audience attention. Rather, incorporate them into your presentation. One of the best and most fun ways to involve your audience is through the use of social media. Start by creating a hashtag prior to your presentation. This hashtag can be used to promote your presentation and share information on social media. In a way, you are involving the audience before they ever even arrive. During the presentation, encourage the audience to “tweet” responses and questions. You can use a separate screen to live-stream these tweets throughout the presentation. It’s a great way to address questions from the audience and also receive live feedback.
Break Into Groups
Another great way to encourage audience participation is by breaking them into small groups. Give each group a task or a question to discuss and then come back together as a group to share the information. When you get the audience up and moving, it helps them to remain focused and it also helps to make your material more memorable.