Search

8 Strategies To Engage Your Audience & Keep Them Interested

You’re a motivational speaker and a good one. You’re invited to speak at numerous sales conferences all over the country. It’s tiring work but you love it. Connecting with an audience, getting the desired reaction, gives you a big kick. That said, you don’t always connect that easily and sometimes you suffer from speaker fatigue – or perhaps your audience is suffering from listener fatigue? To avoid boredom in a presentation or speech, here’s some useful advice to help you engage an audience. Why should they listen? If your audience doesn’t have an obvious reason to be interested, then you need to tell them why they should listen. This can be awkward because some audiences are not there voluntarily. The answer? Tell them why they should care. If you’re speaking about sales and marketing, then tell the audience about a few sales people who overcame extraordinary obstacles and made it to the top. Tell them how their lives were changed. Excite them! Stick to your subject Talk only about those things your audience is expecting to hear. This may sound obvious, but there are speakers who end up going off on a tangent and talking about something completely different. Some years ago, I witnessed a speaker making this mistake. He was due to talk about email marketing, but for some reason he started talking about Search Engine Optimisation for websites. He began by telling his 100-strong audience that he wasn’t going to talk about email marketing but rather about SEO. He then asked how many audience members had a website, and watched as only 5 put up their hands. So, did he go back to speaking about email marketing? No, he didn’t, and 95 people had to sit through something they had no interest in. Make sure your presentation has ‘flow’ If your presentation is compelling and audience members are hanging on your every word, then you’re in a state of ‘flow’. For flow to occur, the task of listening should not be too easy or too hard. A presentation presents a challenge to audience members – they are required to think, and you need to find the right level of challenge for your particular audience. When a speaker wades through a series of bullet points, there’s no challenge and audiences get bored very quickly. Conversely, if the speaker rattles through the details of a complicated flow chart without explaining what it’s about, the challenge will be too great. A good tip is to ask yourself a few times during your presentation, ‘Is this too easy or too hard? ‘Change’ is a way to grab attention Because people’s concentration levels wander, you need to keep their attention. The best way to do this is to change what’s happening during your presentation. Try some of these: Change from slides to a flipchart and back again Change from listening to you to discussing a topic with the colleague next to them Change from sitting around tables to standing around a flipchart Show a short video Employ audience response systems Use a long silence before and after an important statement Tell stories Every presentation should include a sprinkling of anecdotes. People are hard-wired to listen to stories and perk up the minute you say, ‘Let me tell you a story about…’ But make sure the stories reinforce the points you’re making. Take frequent breaks You need to let an audience take frequent breaks, sometimes for just one or two minutes so they can refresh their drinks and walk around. Moving is a very effective way of keeping people attentive. Get them moving It’s estimated that audiences only pay attention for around 8 minutes at a time, so every so often get them to do some easy physical exercise like walking around the room in a conga line … with you leading them. Not only is this fun, but it will pump some more energy into everyone. Let your audience talk By letting audience members talk, they’ll feel valued. It also gives you chance to take a short break, mentally. Ask members of the audience some direct questions. In this way, you’ll be able to find out how they feel about your topic and the content of your presentation.
Rated 4.0/5 based on 20 customer reviews

8 Strategies To Engage Your Audience & Keep Them Interested

1K
8 Strategies To Engage Your Audience & Keep Them Interested

You’re a motivational speaker and a good one. You’re invited to speak at numerous sales conferences all over the country. It’s tiring work but you love it. Connecting with an audience, getting the desired reaction, gives you a big kick.

That said, you don’t always connect that easily and sometimes you suffer from speaker fatigue – or perhaps your audience is suffering from listener fatigue? To avoid boredom in a presentation or speech, here’s some useful advice to help you engage an audience.

  1. Why should they listen?

If your audience doesn’t have an obvious reason to be interested, then you need to tell them why they should listen. This can be awkward because some audiences are not there voluntarily. The answer? Tell them why they should care.

If you’re speaking about sales and marketing, then tell the audience about a few sales people who overcame extraordinary obstacles and made it to the top. Tell them how their lives were changed. Excite them!

  1. Stick to your subject

Talk only about those things your audience is expecting to hear. This may sound obvious, but there are speakers who end up going off on a tangent and talking about something completely different.

Some years ago, I witnessed a speaker making this mistake. He was due to talk about email marketing, but for some reason he started talking about Search Engine Optimisation for websites. He began by telling his 100-strong audience that he wasn’t going to talk about email marketing but rather about SEO.

He then asked how many audience members had a website, and watched as only 5 put up their hands. So, did he go back to speaking about email marketing? No, he didn’t, and 95 people had to sit through something they had no interest in.

  1. Make sure your presentation has ‘flow’

If your presentation is compelling and audience members are hanging on your every word, then you’re in a state of ‘flow’. For flow to occur, the task of listening should not be too easy or too hard. A presentation presents a challenge to audience members – they are required to think, and you need to find the right level of challenge for your particular audience.

When a speaker wades through a series of bullet points, there’s no challenge and audiences get bored very quickly. Conversely, if the speaker rattles through the details of a complicated flow chart without explaining what it’s about, the challenge will be too great. A good tip is to ask yourself a few times during your presentation, ‘Is this too easy or too hard?

  1. ‘Change’ is a way to grab attention

Because people’s concentration levels wander, you need to keep their attention. The best way to do this is to change what’s happening during your presentation. Try some of these:

  • Change from slides to a flipchart and back again
  • Change from listening to you to discussing a topic with the colleague next to them
  • Change from sitting around tables to standing around a flipchart
  • Show a short video
  • Employ audience response systems
  • Use a long silence before and after an important statement
  1. Tell stories

Every presentation should include a sprinkling of anecdotes. People are hard-wired to listen to stories and perk up the minute you say, ‘Let me tell you a story about…’ But make sure the stories reinforce the points you’re making.

  1. Take frequent breaks

You need to let an audience take frequent breaks, sometimes for just one or two minutes so they can refresh their drinks and walk around. Moving is a very effective way of keeping people attentive.

  1. Get them moving

It’s estimated that audiences only pay attention for around 8 minutes at a time, so every so often get them to do some easy physical exercise like walking around the room in a conga line … with you leading them. Not only is this fun, but it will pump some more energy into everyone.

  1. Let your audience talk

By letting audience members talk, they’ll feel valued. It also gives you chance to take a short break, mentally. Ask members of the audience some direct questions. In this way, you’ll be able to find out how they feel about your topic and the content of your presentation.

Dakota

Dakota Murphey

Blog Author

Dakota Murphey is a BA (Hons) marketing graduate and independent content writer who specialises in the business and marketing sector. Working alongside audience response system specialists, CLiKAPAD
 

Join the Discussion

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Suggested Blogs

5 Options For Developing Your Team’s Skills

I’d love to always be able to choose the right people for my projects but in practice that rarely happens. My teams are made up of the people I inherit, or the people who are available. And that’s not a bad thing: my colleagues are always enthusiastic. But sometimes the people that you work with don’t have the right skills to do the precise job that you need right now. When that happens, we need to quickly improve the skills in the team to get them to where they need to be. Then they can contribute more effectively and overall you’ll get more done in the right way. Here are 5 ways that you can develop the skills in your team. 1. Workshadowing Workshadowing is where you put someone who needs to brush up their skills alongside someone who already has those skills. The learner gets to see how their colleague does things in real life, plus they are exposed to experiences that they might not get in their existing role. It’s a good way to let people get on-the-job learning without having to pay for training. Of course, it does cost you something, as the person who is being workshadowed will probably spend longer completing their tasks when they have someone following them about. They’ll also need to be patient and able to cope with the multitude of questions. In itself, workshadowing might not be enough. It’s good for seeing how tasks are done and for gaining exposure, but unless it’s paired with a formal knowledge transfer then it’s really just about dipping your toes in the water of the topic. People tend to only workshadow for a short period of time so there’s a limit to how much you can improve someone’s skills in that window. Pros: Workshadowing is super easy to set up and virtually free. Cons: You need to find someone with the right skills, the time to pass them on and an attitude that makes them a good teacher. 2. Mentoring Mentoring has the same approach of pairing an experienced person with someone less experienced. But the arrangement is more formal, and instead of simply observing what the more experienced person is doing, the mentee (the person being mentored) can get more advice and help by asking questions, normally within a more formal framework. Pairs meet regularly to talk about issues that the less experienced person is having. Think of it as ‘taking someone under your wing’ or a bit like a buddy scheme. Another benefit is that the mentor can introduce their mentee to others in their network: not only are you getting access to their experience and their brain but also the practical resources that they can offer through connections. Pros: Being a mentor is a good career opportunity for your more senior staff as it helps them develop a range of leadership skills. It’s relatively easy to set up but does take some time to match people to good mentors. Cons: Mentoring works best when there is a semi-formal or formal framework in place with the support of the wider organization. Without this, an informal relationship is likely to fall apart due to the pressures of having to do the day job. You need both parties to commit to finding time to take part in mentoring, and be committed to the success of their pairing. When pairs have a personality clash, the relationship and the benefits you were expecting from mentoring, become diluted. 3. Coaching Coaching is different from training in that coaching is less about offering advice and more about helping others find their own solutions in a way that is going to be most effective for them. It’s less about ‘when I do that I do it like this’ and more ‘how could you do it and be successful’? There’s a huge skill in coaching which is why coaches normally have formal training and accreditation. If there are people in your team who need support with the softer skills of management and leadership then this is a powerful option, but if they need to be directed in how to complete their work, or they are starting from scratch, coaching might not be the best tool for improving their skills. Pros: Coaching is hugely powerful and confidence-boosting. Cons: Coaching takes time to implement because you’ll either have to train staff internally to act as coaches (it’s different to mentoring) or buy in resources to offer the coaching service to you. 4. Training You were wondering when I’d get to training, weren’t you? Training is the option most people think about first when they consider how to improve the skills of their team. You’ve got lots of training options: • Running courses in-house by experienced internal resources • Bringing a trainer in to the company to teach on your premises • Sending the relevant team members to classroom courses • Online training, which could be self-directed or trainer-led (read more about when to use online training) And I’m sure as technology develops we’ll see even more options and hybrids blending these different options to make a course delivery method that works perfectly for your team. Training isn’t a quick fix because you need to take what you have learned and apply it to your day-to-day activities so there is that transition period when you return from your course. Training does have to be clearly matched to the needs of the person receiving the training. There’s no point, for example, of sending someone on a general IT management course when actually what they need is ITIL® Foundation. Pros: Training is perfect when you need your team to get accredited in a particular skill. It’s a fast way to improve their competence. Cons: Training is probably the most expensive of all these options (although coaching can be pretty pricey too). You need to make sure that they have the time to apply and use their new skills in the workplace otherwise you’ll find they quickly go back to their old ways of working. 5. Supporting Their Learning When someone is keen to learn independently, your role as a manager might just be to support their efforts. Many ambitious people across IT and project management are prepared to study for and take certification and professional development courses through their own motivation and you should encourage this and support as necessary. Support could, of course, be financial, such as helping with course costs, fees, and training materials. It could also be practical, such as offering time off for study or exams. You can also help your team members take on more self-directed learning in a more direct way, by giving them time to work on their professional development inside working hours and providing them with the resources they need, such as books or websites on the topic. Pros: Self-directed learning is the most hands-off for the manager and is very cheap to implement. Cons: Finding reputable sources for self-directed learning ccan be hard. There are plenty of websites with tutorials, checklists and videos that will help you learn about almost anything, but you need to be confident in the material and the quality of the trainer. Self-directed learning relies heavily on the motivation of individuals. People may be keen to study and improve their skills, but are they developing in areas where you really need them to? As you can see, there are lots of options for boosting the skills in your team, and this list has probably given you other ideas too. Think carefully about what is right for your team and the skills that they need to develop. And if you choose training as a possible way forward, check out the Knowledgehut online training catalogue to see what you could study today
Rated 4.5/5 based on 20 customer reviews
5462
5 Options For Developing Your Team’s Skills

I’d love to always be able to choose the right p... Read More

How to Fit Self-Learning into Your Busy Schedule

Do you want to get a promotion or dive into a new career? Or do you want to learn something new just because you love to learn? Whatever the reason is that’s driving you to learn, you can do it through self-learning. Education has changed significantly in recent years. Today, you can learn just about any subject online, but finding the time for self-learning is still challenging. Don’t give up on your dreams to learn new things because you think you don’t have time. Instead, use the tips below to create the time in your existing schedule. 1. Schedule Time for Education without Distractions Turn off your phone. Close your email. Shut your door, and put up a Do Not Disturb sign. Tell your friends and family that you’re studying and insist that they not interrupt you until a specific time (unless there is an emergency of course). If you have to, put on some headphones to drown out distracting noise (this includes your kids as long as they have adequate supervision). Have you ever sat down to study (or to read anything for that matter) and found yourself re-reading the same sentence over and over again? You’re distracted. Eliminate distractions and your productivity level will skyrocket! You must be vigilant about protecting your study time. 2. Learn How You Work Most Productively There is no right or wrong way to study. If you’re most productive in the morning, get up early and study for an hour before work. If you’re most productive in the afternoon or evening, then you should try to study then. Do what works best for you and ignore what everyone else tells you (even the productivity experts). If you’re stuck, there are some techniques you can try that might increase your productivity. For example, Italian entrepreneur Francesco Cirillo’s Pomodoro Technique recommends that you work for 25 minutes and then take a 5 minute break to do something completely different. By working in short increments with breaks, your productivity level might increase. Another technique is to work in 90-minute increments that match the body’s ultradium rhythm. Alternately, you can find your “flow”, which Psychology Today refers to as the “optimal state of consciousness where we feel our best and perform our best.” It’s the time when all aspects of your performance peak. 3. Stay Organized How good are your organizational skills? Be honest. This is a problem area for many people, but with careful planning and a commitment to not only get organized but also to stay organized, you can recoup hours every week. First, you need to determine what organizational techniques and tools work for you. For example, you’re going to need a calendar. Do you work best with a printed calendar, a digital calendar on your computer, or a mobile calendar on your smartphone? Do you like Google Calendar because it integrates with your Gmail account? There are many options, so take the time to test some calendaring options and find the one that you’re most comfortable with. Once you know how you’re going to track all of your to do’s on a calendar, you need to create monthly, weekly, and daily schedules. Look at them at the start of every day. Update them throughout the day as needed, and review and edit them again at night. If they’re not current, they’re useless. Most importantly, stick to your schedules! This requires a lot of self-discipline, but it must be done. 4. Get Support It’s hard to educate yourself without some kind of support. You need the support of your friends and family, and if possible, you need the support of your coworkers and boss. You’re schedule is going to be very busy as you’re learning, so you need to set their expectations at the very beginning. You can also get support from mentors and instructors, but if you’re learning online, you might not have access to these people. Don’t go it alone. There are many website and online forums as well as social media groups that you can join to communicate with other people who are educating themselves while raising a family, working full-time, or both! They’re an excellent source of support. 5. Use the Resources Available to You There are more ways to learn than from a book. In fact, many digital learning tools provide a variety of ways that you can learn. Review the opportunities for self-learning available to you and find one that offers the flexibility you need. You don’t have to sit in a live training class for eight straight hours in a day. Today, there are simply too many options to settle for something that’s not perfect for you. If you prefer to read in order to learn, look for opportunities to access text-based educational materials online. If you prefer to learn visually or aurally, look for video training. As a matter of fact, visual learning stimulates your brain more than classroom learning.  There is an educational opportunity for everyone online today, so what are you waiting for? Go learn!
Rated 4.0/5 based on 20 customer reviews
How to Fit Self-Learning into Your Busy Schedule

Do you want to get a promotion or dive into a new ... Read More

Will The Proliferation Of E-Learning Be The Death Of Universities?

The proliferation of knowledge could well be thought of as the single biggest contribution of technology. Whether through CD-ROMs, CBT’s or the Internet, accessible eLearning content has allowed millions of people across the globe skills themselves up and lead better lives. From being just an idea that was first floated in an international conference in Los Angeles, eLearning is today the fastest growing market in education. With the explosion of the internet this phenomenon is only going to grow. So where do traditional centres of learning figure in this age of technology? Will the myriad advantages offered by eLearning be the death of universities? From stone tablets to paper books to web based tutorials, throughout the ages man has found ways and means to spread the light of education. As civilizations grew and more things were discovered, there came a necessity to make the dispersal of knowledge more sophisticated. The need to preserve and pass on this knowledge to generations led to the establishment of universities and schools, high centres of education, the walls of which saw the human race go from strength to strength. But since time immemorial, conventional education has always been connected with economics and cultural barriers. Women and those in the lowest economic rungs of society could not go into schools and universities. In the early 19th century, the concept of distance education changed the perception of education when it was taken out of the confines of a walled classroom and made available to all. Distance education became more sophisticated with the advent of radio and television and the invention of the internet completely changed the face of it. It had now become more accessible, cheaper and interactive with the introduction of multi-dimensional teaching concepts. Educators could now use graphics, multimedia, sound and motion to teach concepts that could otherwise be taught only through practical’s. This accessibility that allows education to reach even hard-to-reach learners is among the most measurable advantages of eLearning. Imagine a Harvard professor conducting online eLearning courses to a group of students in Africa. Questions are asked, concepts are learned, doubts are cleared and minds are ignited. This is the democratization of education, which is no longer confined to the haloed walls of a university. Not just those deprived due to socio-economic reasons, but the anytime, anywhere, anyplace advantages of visual lessons has been widely appreciated by employees of organizations, who need to invest in continuous improvement. An instructor who is geographically isolated can help employees learn the latest tools and techniques and upgrade their skills. These latest know-hows can be incorporated to improve processes and enhance organizational profits and credibility. Also, eLearning is the step forward to make education more sustainable and environment friendly. A study conducted by the Stockholm Environmental Institute (SEI) and the UK’s Open University Design Innovation Group (DIG) has found that distance learning courses consumed nearly 90% less energy and produced 85% fewer CO2 emissions than conventional campus university courses. With only a computer and a remote connection, students can save time, travel and boarding cost while aiming for higher education. With so many advantages, will eLearning be the end of conventional education as we know it? Unless classrooms adopt technology and move with the times, it could very well be. While many colleges have adopted a blended learning approach by using part face-to-face and part online training, they still need to incorporate more technology to survive. We live in times where technology changes are as rapid as it can get. Staying in tune with this changing technology is the only thing that leads to success. eLearning incorporates all the latest technologies giving learners a chance to experience simulations, improve their skills, and take a shot at aiming for higher education at moderate costs. With so many myriad advantages, eLearning just might be able to scale the traditional walls of a conventional teaching institute and completely change the way education is delivered.
Rated 4.0/5 based on 20 customer reviews
Will The Proliferation Of E-Learning Be The Death ...

The proliferation of knowledge could well be thoug... Read More

Useful links