Presentation Tip: Involve Your Audience

“Oh no, surely not? Isn’t it enough already that I have to do a *@$% presentation?” Well, it depends… How much do you want your audience to buy into what you’re presenting, and how thoroughly do you know what they respond well to? If the answer to both those questions is “a lot” then you may want to build in some ways of involving your audience. If you’re unsure if audience involvement is going to work with your group, you can always ask them. Or try involving them a little and see how it goes. Try these tips to involve your audience, a little, some of the time, or a lot.

A little

  • This might be as simple as throwing in some questions that you have prepared, to get people focused on your topic. “How many of you were irritated by someone’s use of a smartphone this morning?”
  • Or, get them giving opinions, by asking a question such as, “What’s the one thing you think your competitors are afraid of?”
  • Also, it can be good practice, as well as polite, to check in with the audience on how they’re feeling, how you’re doing, “How’s the pace? Too slow, too fast, just right?”
  • Try a Post-It flurry of ideas/suggestions/comments.

Some of the time

You can get more interaction going with shows of hands in answer to a question.

You can also try:

  • Quick polls
  • Very short questionnaires
  • Ranking a short list of options
  • Votes.

A lot

If you know the audience, know they love interactivity, and the objectives/topic call for it, then you can try a much more facilitated, rather than presenter-led approach.

  • Divide the audience up into small teams (no more than 6), or trios or pairs, and give them a simple task, such as identifying the pros/cons of options available.
  • Trios or pairs conduct some quick research – find x number of respondents, get their points of view, report back (good for away days).
  • Individuals craft a question for the group to address by the end of the session (if there are lots of people, have a show of hands vote for the top 3-5).
  • Form two teams and have a (facilitated) debate. You may want to distribute some guidelines.

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