How to Improve Audience Engagement : 5 Tips
18th August 2011 by Rachel Willis
I’m always amazed by presenters who fail to think about their audience. Time and time again I’ve heard people say ‘I want to show this’ or ‘I want to say that’ without thinking for one minute what their audience wants to see or hear.
These presenters fail to realise that the success of their presentation isn’t dependant on how they feel about their performance; their success is determined by their audience and their reactions to it!
You might think you’ve delivered a world class presentation, but if the audience doesn’t agree, you’re doomed. No matter how good you think you are, it’s the audience who will decide whether you’re a success or not, so it’s a good idea to find out more about them as soon as possible.
The good news is that it’s pretty easy to deliver a presentation to your audience; you just have to keep them in mind – all of the time. Constantly think ‘what do I want the audience to think, feel and do as a result of watching this presentation? Write down the answers to this question on a piece of paper. Everything you include in your presentation should be in line with these answers.
Below are some more tips that should help you to connect with your audience:
1. I know I’ve said it once but: I can’t say it often enough, always bear in mind, what you want the audience to Think Feel and Do as a result of seeing your presentation. (Write the answers on a Post-it-note and stick this to your computer screen.)
2. Start our presentation with a positive: ‘I’m going to make the best use of your time today by focusing on’….. or ‘I promise you that I’m going to stay on track and on time today’ (Few audiences will forgive you for running over time.)
3. Think about how your audience will be feeling when you present: If your audience has been subjected to multiple presentations then this is a great idea; when you go on stage give them the option of Death by PowerPoint (squillions of slides to sit through) or a short, punchy 10 minute presentation. They’ll obviously always shout for the latter but it’s a simple way of illustrating that you are thinking about them and have their feelings in mind.
4. Interact and make eye contact: If you’ve ever listened to a speaker who is afraid to look you in the eye you’ll know that it’s a painful experience. Make eye contact with your audience, even if it’s just fleeting. It’ll make you appear more personable and engaging. And there’s nothing wrong with audience interaction either. Asking the audience to voice their opinion by raising their hands, using a hand held microphone and walking into the audience to ask / receive questions are simple but effective techniques and allow the audience to feel part of your presentation.
5. Be polite: Acknowledging the audiences’ effort to be there goes a long way. Recognising this at the start of your presentation will get you on the right foot; ‘I’d like to thank you all for attending today’ for example. At the end of our presentation thank your audience for listening. (I guarantee you’ll receive a round of applause at the end!)
Ultimately there are loads of tips and tricks you can use to engage your audience. However, the most important thing to do is remember that they are there! They have woken up, got ready and travelled to see you present, the least you can do is acknowledge this.
Their opinions are what matters. Don’t be arrogant and think it’s all about you because it’s not. Think about every famous speech in the world, they were all written with one thing in mind – the audience!
You may also like this post:
Please sign up for our monthly Video Email Newsletter: