How to Engage Your Audience During a Presentation or Workshop

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Here’s a scenario you’ve probably experienced many times as an audience member.  The presenter at the front of the room is carrying out the entire “show” – lecturing, spraying you with information, and delivering what he or she thinks is great value. You’re sitting passively in listening mode – and eventually succumbing to EGO. No, it’s not what you think. EGO stands for

Eyes Glazed Over!

How to Engage Your AudienceWhat probably comes as no surprise to you is the fact that adults learn in a variety of ways and at a variety of speeds. They have differing attention spans and abilities to stay focused and interested – just like children do. Then why do so many presenters use only one method of teaching – lecture – an information dump strategy that doesn’t help the majority of people learn, remember, and use the information they’re hearing?

Unfortunately many presenters still think their job is to educate people – give them information. As brutal as this may sound, if information is all you give your attendees, then they don’t need you. Your participants can usually find the information they’re looking for elsewhere. What they need from you is help in processing and understanding the information. They want to know how it is significant, relevant, and useful to them.

What Does That Mean for You When It Comes to Engaging Your Audience During Your Presentations, Workshops, and Seminars?

If you want to make a long-term impact on your audience members, then the key is to engage them in a meaningful way – and the key to doing that is activities.

How to Engage Your Audience

 

 

If you think you don’t have time to include activities because you’ve got a lot to cover, consider this. It’s better to give less content and ensure it sticks, than to dump a load of information your participants won’t remember.

If we’re going to be perfectly honest, a small percentage of your attendees won’t be happy about participating in activities. Can we as presenters and facilitators make everybody happy all of the time? No, but we can make everybody happy some of the time. Whenever I take a survey of the participants in my presentations, workshops, and webinars, the overwhelming majority tell me that they learn best through hands-on practice, brainstorming exercises, discussion groups, problem-solving activities, or case study analysis. Only a small number benefit from a lecture style of presentation. Variety is key to the learning experience.

Here’s How to Engage Your Audience With Activities

Use activities as icebreakers and energizers at the beginning of your sessions. They set the stage for participation and learning. Your attendees immediately get the message that they’re not going to be sitting back passively. Rather, yours is going to be an interactive and engaging session.

Secondly, use activities to gather and process information. The information-gathering exercises help you assess your participants’ current knowledge and experience level with your topic, whereas the information-processing activities help people master, remember, and use the information. They also solidify and reinforce what you’re teaching without you having to repeat yourself over and over again.

If you’re an independent business owner, and you have keywords, tag lines, or a process you want to be known for, incorporate them into activities to reinforce your brand.

Thirdly, use activities to review or close your session. You’ll get valuable feedback – proof that your attendees have “got it” or not. You’ll know whether they’ve achieved the outcome you set out for them initially.  Activities at the end of your session will once again help reinforce and integrate the learning while providing closure and a link out to using the information after your session is over and your attendees go back to their lives.

If you’re looking for ideas to engage your audience – interactive activities to use at the beginning, middle, and end of your session – head on over to Rock the Room Activities here.

How to Engage Your Audience

 

 

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Comments

  1. Awesome. I totally agree. For me it’s a learning curve, my first lecture I literally dumped information like that, over time I learnt to engage, because its true, what’s the point of dumping information without practicalizing and localizing the information.

    • I love the way you phrased that, Mary, “literally dumped information”. It gives me such a great visual image. You’re right about it being a learning curve — definitely a learnable skill.

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