Chances are many of us can’t remember the last time we didn’t yawn at a conference, talk, or presentation. Perhaps you didn’t get enough sleep the night before or it’s been an exhausting day, but there’s a better chance you are bored to tears. Whatever the reason, yawning is never a good sign for a presenter. This is a sign that your audience has tuned you out. The goal of any presentation is to catch the attention of the audience right from the start and keep them engaged throughout the presentation. However, if things go awry, there are still some strategies you can employ to reel your audience back in. Here we will examine how to grab the audience’s attention and what you can do if you begin to lose it.
How to Capture the Attention of Your Audience
Prepare a Compelling Introduction
You only have a matter of seconds to capture your audience’s attention. That means the first few lines of your presentation need to be interesting. A strong opening might include a quote, staggering statistic, a joke, or even a story. These types of introductions are compelling and are designed to peak audience interest right from the start.
Clear and Effective Structure
Nothing will lose your audience faster than jumping all over the place from topic to topic. A powerful presentation flows smoothly from one topic to the next and is has a well-organized structure. This makes it easier for audiences to understand and they are more likely to pay attention.
While the purpose of a presentation is to convey information, it doesn’t hurt to throw in a bit of entertainment. Text heavy slides and lengthy speaking without breaks will bore audiences. If
you want to capture the audience’s attention and keep it, you must include interesting and engaging visuals throughout the entire presentation.
Engage with Your Audience
All too often presenters spend the entire time speaking at the audience rather than engaging them. This is a sure-fire way to lose their attention. Instead, presenters can engage the audience through questions, polls, social media, and even games. When you engage with your audience, they become part of your presentation and that’s when your presentation is successful.
What to Do if Your Audience Tunes Out
Ask a Question
It may seem simple enough, but if you notice slouching and yawns it might be a good idea to stop and ask a question. This will turn the audience’s attention to something new and pull them back in. Ask for a show of hands, call on audience members, or have them sit or stand to show agreement. Any kind of movement will help the audience to refocus their attention.
Increase Your Energy
Audiences feed off the presenter so if you are slow, monotone, and quiet your audience will not be receptive. On the other hand, if you are cheerful, energetic, and excited, your audience is likely to feed off your energy. If you begin to see your audience checking their phones, it might be time to speak louder and increase your energy.
Skip to a Different Section
Sometimes you need to shake things up to get the audience back on track. If you are in the middle of a particularly boring segment, it might be a good idea to switch to something more interesting. Once you have the audience’s attention you can always revisit the other information.
Ask Them to Move
Oftentimes people lose interest because they have been sitting too long. Simply asking your audience to stand, putting them in small groups, or having them change seats can help gather their attention.