Top 7 Ways to Get Your Audience Actively Involved
By Bill Lampton, Ph.D.
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The most successful speaking events involve far more than action from the speaker, however stimulating his or her content and delivery might be. Speeches that grab and keep attention, stimulate agreement, and generate the speaker’s desired results happen only when the presenter mixes action with interaction. Although audiences in prior generations might have been content with sitting passively and listening stoically for extended periods, contemporary listeners are more likely to prefer participating openly and energetically. Here are the top 7 ways to make that happen.
- Publicize Your Presentation as a Participatory Event
Have your host announce in newsletters and e-mails, “Our keynote speaker will bring us a highly interactive presentation about how we can strengthen our customer service.” Encourage your host to repeat that description in every reminder.
- Solicit Audience Opinions About Your Topic and Its Relevance
Here’s how: From your host, get the names, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses of at least four of the group’s most respected members. Ask your host to alert them that you will contact them. During your conversations, say: “What you just said would help me get an important point across during my presentation. During my speech, could I please call on you to repeat what you just said to me?” Fortunately, almost everyone will consent. This guarantees that several key people will stand and speak, which will prompt others to voice their reactions
- Tell Your Host Which Seating Arrangement Will Foster Discussion
Avoid traditional theatre seating, where people see the back of the heads in front of them, rather than faces. Ideally, aim for round tables seating 5-7 people. While many attendees would be too reticent to speak in front of 300 audience members, sharing thoughts at a small table won’t seem intimidating.
- Have Your Host Furnish Necessary Materials
Specifically request pens, pencils, and note pads. This way you won’t cause disorder when you say, “The group at each table has ten minutes to make a list of seven improvements the company can make in our monthly staff meetings.”
- Keep PowerPoint Reliance to a Minimum
Yes, PowerPoint has advantages, such as reinforcing your main points and showing colorful illustrations. Still, the audience cannot focus on the screen and relate to each other at the same time.
- Remind Your Audience in Your Opening Comments That You Expect Participation
“Every announcement you read about my presentation emphasized that this session will be interactive. That means you will do more than just sit and listen. There’s no way I came here with all the best ideas about our topic, so I’m eager—along with your organization’s leaders—to have your help in facing tough issues, solving problems, and charting fresh directions.”
- Answer Every Comment With Appreciation and Support
Remember, even a well meaning, lighthearted sarcastic remark could sound demeaning. Even though you smile and chuckle when you quip, “Now where did you get a crazy idea like that?” the audience could assume you are belittling the responder. Always react with upbeat appraisals like these: “Great idea, tell us what would be the first step we should take to make that happen.” “That’s a novel strategy, one I haven’t heard from any other group. How could we implement your suggestion within the next month or two?”
Bill Lampton, Ph.D., "Speech Coach for Champions," helps clients speak with "poise, power, and persuasion," so they will generate "attention, agreement, and action." His top-tier client list includes Gillette, Duracell, Procter and Gamble, Ritz-Carlton Cancun, and Celebrity Cruises. Visit his Web site to sign up for his complimentary online newsletter: http://tinyurl.com/otlcgz Call him: 678-316-4300 Visit his Facebook business page: [http://bit.ly/k69F5C].
Article Submitted On: August 22, 2011