How soon does your butt get tired in the seat during a presentation? If you know the answer, then you’ve probably been to some pretty boring talks. If not, then just maybe you’ve encountered a speaker who knows the value of audience participation. We are going to tap into how to get and keep your audience involved in your presentation.

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Drying Paint

That is what you believe you are watching when you get a speaker who drones on through a presentation. The material may be relevant but not presented in a way that reaches out and grabs you. The presenter may suffer from “cardboard cut-out” syndrome and looks as if he or she is rooted to one spot behind the podium. In any case, the audience is lost, not to return any time soon.

No one wants to be “that person” whose presentations are uninteresting. If you are afraid that this might be you, ask yourself a question: If I were in the audience, what would keep me awake and interested in what was being said? Brainstorm some answers and use those to enhance your presentation.

Presentation Reboot: Going Interactive

It’s time to engage the audience. In fact, the time to involve them is during the planning of your presentation. The audience is your target, your focus and your star. They are here to see you, so you have to be there for them and give them what they want. How can you discover if you are moving in the right direction? Get them to tell you so.

Here are some suggestions for a livelier presentation.

1. Ask a question at the beginning of your presentation – If you plan on telling a story or showing a shocking image, ask the audience a question that will set them thinking in advance of your big reveal. Now, their minds are occupied with viewing or listening to you in light of this advance directive.

2. Send out a survey – If this is an office presentation, attach a survey to the invitation for participants to fill out and email back to you. Use this info to craft the presentation for them.

3. Discussion groups – For smaller business settings where the configuration is round table seating, ask questions and/or give instructions for small group participation. Participants can get to know each other while learning something new from you. Allow time for debrief of information after the entire group comes back together.

4. Speak to a participant directly – This method works in smaller groups. Make eye contact and ask a question that anyone can answer easily. Then call on someone to get the ball rolling. Be sure to thank them for their answer before continuing the discussion.

5. Use slides – Here we are talking about fill-in-the-blank sentences, partial images and the like where the audience gives their take on what they see.

Audience participation leads to further discussion as a part of your presentation. When the audience feels like they matter, they will take the time to listen.

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