How To Engage Your Audience

If you’ve ever been bored by someone’s presentation, then you’ll want to ensure that you don’t do the same to your audience when it’s your turn to speak. Here are 13 great tips on how to engage your audience so that they enjoy your presentation, and take action (if that’s what you intended!).

  • Look at them. Make eye contact. In fact, do it a lot. It’s far easier to make eye contact when you don’t keep staring at the screen (or horrors, reading off it). Take in all sections of the audience, not just one area.
  • Smile frequently, but appropriately. It’s no use smiling while you’re saying something sad. That’s incongruent. But a friendly demeanor warms your audience to you.
  • Involve them. Ask questions, encourage responses and then acknowledge their responses by expanding on their views. That way you will encourage more people to respond and get involved. You can also ask them to do something physical. Be mindful of not embarrassing people.
  • Tell stories. When you were little, the best treat that Mum or Dad could give you before lights out was a bed time story. Adults buy newspapers because we’re addicted to stories. You may not realize this, but you have plenty of your own stories that you can use to enhance your presentation. Rediscover your own stories and use them in your presentations.
  • Use descriptive gestures. The brain picks up a great deal of information from movements and body language messages. People will work out whether you’re relaxed or tense by the way you use gestures. Small, half-hearted apologetic gestures show you’re unsure of yourself. Big, deliberate, flowing gestures give the message that you’re relaxed and in control.
  • Use your voice effectively. You need to speak clearly at a moderate pace (not too fast), use inflection and project so that everyone in the room can hear you. Tools such as emphasis and effective pausing will also enhance vocal quality.
  • Use props. Magicians use cloths, balloons, playing cards and pigeons. Ventriloquists use puppets and hand socks. You may use a ball, item of clothing, robot or anything that may enhance your message. Props certainly add variety to a talk, especially when used skillfully.
  • If you’re going to use video clips choose 1 or 2 really good, fresh ones – no more. Your audience can watch TV at home. They’ve come to listen to you speak, not to view your collection of viral video clips. Besides, they’ve seen most of them anyway.
  • If you’re going to use slides, use as few as possible, make them interesting and cull as much text as possible. The more words you have on the screen, the more disengaged your audience will be from you. Use just one photo per slide unless you’re comparing.
  • Be interesting. Pick a handful of main points you are going to make and create a good presentation around them. Bombarding your audience with too much content will ensure that they clock out early.
  • Be prepared. Organize your thoughts and your content before hand and rehearse what you’re going to say a few times before unleashing your genius on an audience. They’ll be glad you did.
  • Be energetic. Authentic, real enthusiasm is infectious. If you believe in yourself and you’re excited about your topic, the enthusiasm will flow naturally. It’s also a good idea to get yourself mentally in to the zone before your start.
  • Enjoy yourself. It’s a privilege to address an audience. Make the most of it and make sure you have fun. If you do, chances are they will too!

There can be few things worse than delivering a boring presentation, except perhaps being on the receiving end. But you know that of course, we’ve all experienced a few of those. Now you won’t be a perpetrator of such tedium.

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