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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.
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8 Strategies To Engage Your Audience & Keep Them Interested

699
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
 

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Online Learning – Research Shows Everyone Is Doing It (Almost)

Online learning is no longer a “new” thing. It’s expected. It’s the first route to personal and professional education for people around the world, and in the United States, more than one in four college students take at least one online course. In total, half of all college students take all of their classes online. This data comes from the 2015 Survey of Online Learning Report by Babson Survey Research Group that was released earlier this year. Year over year, online learning among college students increased by 4% between 2014 and 2015, but the increase among professionals and companies was even greater. In fact, the compound growth rate for the global e learning industry was 10% over the past five years. Specifically, the global self-paced elearning industry generated revenues of $32.1 billion in 2010 according to a study by Ambient Insight. Fast forward to 2015, and the industry generated revenues of $49.9 billion with the total global elearning market generating $107 billion! Clearly, people are not only comfortable with online learning but they’re choosing it often. Online Learning’s Ongoing Popularity in the Professional Market It’s the professional market where online learning is expected to continue to grow the most rapidly in the coming years. Despite it’s existing popularity (77% of U.S. companies offer online corporate training to employees), there is room for growth. Consulting company Roland and Berger released a study in 2014 that reported the online corporate market for elearning products and services is expected to grow by 13% each year through 2017. Companies of all sizes are using online learning. The 2014 Training Industry Report from Training Magazine found that in 2014, large companies were more likely to use self-paced online or computer-led training (36%) than small (16.6%) or mid-sized (12.4%) companies, but large companies weren’t the only ones planning to invest in online learning during the following year. In 2015, 49.1% of small, mid-sized, and large companies reported that they planned to purchase some kind of online and/or mobile learning tools and systems. That means one out of two companies invested in online learning in 2015! Online Learning is the Norm in 2016 Add on all of the individuals who take online courses for self-improvement to the corporate numbers, and it’s clear that online learning is no longer “the way people will learn in the future.” It’s the way they’re learning right now. For many people, online learning has become the preferred method of learning. Today, learning truly is an anywhere, anytime activity. It provides the flexibility and convenience that students of all ages want combined with the “always on” way that they conduct their lives in 2016 thanks to the use of mobile devices and apps to manage all aspects of learning. Growth rates have slowed as the market becomes more mature — it seems like everyone has either taken some type of online course already or knows someone who has. However, there are still opportunities for more people to discover online learning. Furthermore, as more and more independent experts in a wide variety of industries begin leveraging online learning tools to deliver courses to global students, the industry will likely see another big jump in consumers (i.e., students) and revenues.
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9 Tips To Overcome Anxiety About The eLearning Environment

Doing any kind of learning online might be a completely new concept to you. You’re used to using a textbook, jotting notes in class and writing papers on mandatory subjects. E-learning is a featured education, on the other hand, offers something completely new and accessible, requiring only your computer and a few hours of your time a day. There’s only one problem – you can’t make yourself start. It’s easy to understand why e-learning might seem intimidating or impractical in some ways. Nothing can replace a living person that talks to you and approves or disapproves your current progress. You’ll be surprised to hear there are multiple benefits to using an e-learning environment as opposed to sitting in a classroom. Let’s take a look at some of the tips, tricks, and reasons you don’t have to be anxious about the e-learning environment but get excited and jump right to it instead. Ask yourself the important questions Like anything in life, diving into e-learning takes dedication and commitment. While being reluctant about it at first might seem like a sensible thing, you need to ask yourself why you are considering it at all in the first place. You might be far away from your nearest college or university. You might want to learn a very niche and hard-to-come-by skill that no one around you knows about. Or, the courses that are offered in your local vicinity are just outside your pay range. All of these questions are valid and they are the first thing you should consider when you think about e-learning. What makes this type of learning popular is its accessibility. It’s cheaper and easier to attend and complete certain courses, classes or certifications online rather than go through the trouble of doing it in person. Who are you going to get that sweet certificate if the instructor is half a world away from you? Anxiety is a concept that drives us down any time we want to achieve something new and bigger than anything before. Thinking about what makes you use e-learning in the first place is one of the best tips you can get and it will surely jump-start your battle with anxiety. Talk to your friends and family The best motivators we have are the ones who are closest to us. Talk to people you trust and those who make you feel safe. They know you like no one else, and they will always be there for you. Confronting them with the wish of learning online will help you in a huge way because they will want to participate in your learning process and help out. Even though you are learning online and sitting in front of a computer, someone can always check on you from time to time or even sit next to you for a little while. Anxiety is nothing to be ashamed of and your closest ones will be familiar with your struggle if you are honest with them. Make sure to talk to someone and consult a friendly face before you give up on e-learning without even giving it a shot. It’s impossible to fail One of the great things about e-learning is that it’s impossible to fail. Unlike regular school, e-learning is built around your schedule and activity, meaning that you take everything at your own pace. The lessons, courses, and materials all revolve around your mood – if you don’t feel like it, you can just do it in three hours or tomorrow. There is no way to fail like in a regular school, and understanding this fact will be a huge step in overcoming any anxiety that you might feel towards this type of learning. Create a personal schedule In case someone told you specifically when to use e-learning, make sure that you take their advice and adapt it to your own way of life. You know your schedule and activities more than anyone else, so it’s important to adapt this new hobby to your life. Anxiety strikes when we least expect it, and there’s no reason to toss your whole life aside just because a new obligation or a hobby has emerged. Use sticky notes, a personal planner or even an alarm clock – whatever works best for you. Try to schedule e-learning sessions where you will give learning a chance and do nothing else in the meantime. Try doing this a couple of times a week and then increasing the sessions if you feel comfortable and ready for more knowledge. E-learning is very useful and easy to handle when spaced out correctly, so make sure that you don’t overdo it but also dedicate some serious time to it – create a balance. You’ll soon realize that you’re not even thinking about anxiety and that e-learning has become a helpful part of your personal schedule. Find your favorite platform Assuming that you will use e-learning for something other than theuniversity, finding the best platform out there matters greatly. There are countless online platforms ranging from professional course providers that will teach you valuable skills in hours to those less so. Knowing how to tell the difference between them will be a matter of experience since you will have to take the risk-free approach and browse through some of them. Keep tabs on the ones you like and ignore the ones you don’t. Try taking a couple of lessons to make sure that something is good for you before committing to serious e-learning. For example, using paper writing platforms will help you greatly if you need to get writing done in a professional way. Some of the writing service reviews will tell you exactly what to look for. This is a great way to find out which services and platforms are worth your time and you should check them out if that’s what you are looking for. Take breaks regularly You might be thinking about your e-learning anxiety, but you will start to love it more and more by now. It’s important to remember that sitting in front of your computer for hours on end doesn’t do you any good. Try putting some breaks into your now busy schedule and walk around the house, walk to a grocery store or go grab a cup of coffee. Taking regular breaks will keep your mind sharp and ready for new knowledge. It will also help you alleviate any anxiety that you might feel towards e-learning. Reward yourself By taking a few classes and learning new things using e-learning, you have made a big step forward in your life. Why not celebrate small things and reward yourself from time to time for a job well done? A personal reward can be anything from your favorite food to going to the cinema – anything goes really. What’s important to note is that these rewards should be locked behind “walls” that you create for yourself. For example, you can order your favorite food if you study for five hours on a certain day. It may seem crazy when you see it on paper, but it will do wonders when you actually go through with it. It will not only boost your further productivity but make sure you forget anything about anxiety that you might have felt before you started using e-learning environment. Contact the online staff Contacting someone you’ve never met might seem like a ridiculous idea, but asking for professional help is a great idea if you have any doubts about e-learning. Whatever platform you chose as your learning playground, there is bound to be online support present. This means that you can always contact someone who is running the site and ask anything you are uncertain of. The staff will always be happy to help you and you can also do this if you feel anxious about a deal or an option you are offered online. There’s no shame in asking, so make sure that you use this option whenever you feel uncomfortable, lost or desperate for first-hand information. 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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
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