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Blog, Connection, Engagement

How to keep an audience engaged during a presentation

Did you ever think of your presentation as a first time date? Imagine – it’s really not that different. Upfront you are busy with what to wear, what to say and especially what not to say. You don’t need an awful lot of dating experience to know that in the end a date always goes different than expected. But nevertheless, we often feel we can never do without a proper mental preparation.

It requires a similar approach to keep an audience engaged during a presentation. And to steal their hearts. When you aim for an interactive and inspiring presentation, then attention to many details is needed. In this article we explain you more on how to keep audience engaged during presentation.

We do so based on these questions – how to engage your audience:

  • … during public speaking assessments?
  • … through the use of games?
  • … through the use of PowerPoint during presentation?
  • … by facilitating fulll audience participation during presentations?

How to engage an audience in public speaking

Every speaker is different, each story carries a different energy and each time an audience changes; that is in size, in experience and in culture. Many ingredients influence the course of your public speaking performance.

Yet, here are some basics that are universal and yet powerful to be aware of:

  • Start personal. Make the stage and the vibe yours. Share something personal and from there build the bridge to your theme. By doing so, you relate to your personal drive and motivation and you give context to your story. This makes it easier for an audience to engage with your topic and to understand the bigger picture.
  • Know your audience.When in a restaurant with your date – you don’t start talking out of the blue. By knowing the other, it helps to find the right tone, to underline similar shared experiences and to create mutual understanding. Ask a few questions to individual attendees before starting your presentation. Or conduct a short pre-event survey and use the input for your presentation. People often aren’t interested in speeches, but they do like an inspiring conversation instead.
  • Treat time as precious. When given a time slot of 30 minutes – use 25. No matter how interesting your presentation is, spare time is often considered as a little present. But how to use time in other valuable ways? From a more strategic angle you can use time to underline your message; Take a 3-8 seconds pause before telling the really important part. Even the worst smartphone addicts will pay attention now. It might feel awkward in the beginning, but then notice the impact, you’ll get the hang of it!

Games to engage audience during presentation

A game element during a presentation requires that you’re in tune with the vibe of your event. A game can make or break it. The more serious the topic, the less inviting it is to go ‘out-of-the-box’, let alone to get funny. Then again, if you know how to introduce it with confidence and flair, then you might get your crowd on the edge of their chairs!

  • Games to engage an audience. The most popular games to play are often quizzes. Through the use of audience response systems [like Sendsteps], you can easily setup a digital quiz. As such you can quickly see the scores are and there’s no unclarity about the winner. Add a timer for each question and a little background music to get the quiz buzz going!

    As for the quiz itself: relate the multiple choice questions to trivia to keep it light or make it more interesting and dive into your subject. Add a little product placement [clever when sponsors are involved] and the winner leaves the venue with a nice price from the organization or the sponsor!

  • Fun ways to engage an audience. Next to a quiz, there are other ways to keep people’s attention during presentation and meetings. Here are some ideas and fun ways (to engage):
    1. Pre-recorded video interview. Before your event, script an interview and then record it with yourself and imitate someone popular or interview somebody else. When live on stage, show the video and ask the scripted questions and let the person on the video reply. Show your creative side and imagine how hilarious this can turn out!
    2. Build a Wordcloud. Through the use of an audience response system you can start building a live wordcloud with your audience. Ask for everyone’s participation and let attendees send in a one-word reply to a fun question. “What did you want to become when you were 10 years old?”, “Who would you like to spend a coffee with?”.
    3. Play Live Music. Surprisingly music is not often an ingredient of a corporate event, or part of a presentation. But why not? It’s a nice neutralizer in the midst of all the content shared. And it opens the mind for any of your ideas shared in your upcoming presentation.
  • Creative activities to engage an audience. Apart from single event ingredients, like a word cloud or a quiz, you can also work with a sidekick. A person who constantly monitors the sentiment within the audience. As attendees cast votes, send in remarks or ask questions [through their smartphone]; the sidekick is the first person to see all of that coming in. On scripted or spontaneous moments, he puts forward the most intriguing contributions.

    Not only does it help the chairman for orchestrating the audience response better, it also adds a nice dynamic throughout the event program. Attendees feel heard, can respond with honest thoughts and you’ll be sure that based on your audience input that you’ll get to the core. The role of sidekick can be executed by a professional sidekick or by somebody from the own organization. Be aware that this requires good skills in terms of listening and simultaneously scanning large volumes of incoming content, plus presenting skills for bringing the content forward lively and clear.

How to engage audience in powerpoint presentation

As much as PowerPoint can have a negative connotation, it still is the most used presentation tool worldwide. Some people can lose themselves in the preparations, some feel safer using it and others pull of a great performance. So how to come up with a presentation that will engage your audience and foster participation?

Here are some ideas to play with:

  • Less is more. Challenge yourself and write as little as possible on your slides. Or simply skip all text and make use of images instead. Spend your time on browsing powerful images, rather than on formulating clever texts. Are you planning on using video? Make sure to test it before and in the venue itself again!
  • Ask for feedback. Although a presentation itself can be rehearsed with somebody giving you feedback, this might be a time consuming project for you or at least the other. Still, if you have the chance – why not! But spreading your PowerPoint around with a few of your colleagues or peers: that’s an easy task with almost always some valuable input!
  • Ask for feedback. Although a presentation itself can be rehearsed with somebody giving you feedback, this might be a time consuming project for you or at least the other. Still, if you have the chance – why not! But spreading your PowerPoint around with a few of your colleagues or peers: that’s an easy task with almost always some valuable input!

Make a presentation interactive

With help of Sendsteps audience response system you’ll bring your presentation to a new level: an interactive one!

  • How to make presentation interactive? The quickest and best way to use Sendsteps is to add a number of multiple choice questions. Use it as an icebreaker, or test your crowd’s knowledge or make an audience profile based on a number of profiling questions.

    Or do you dare to let attendees respond openly through their smartphone? Enable the audience to voice their opinion, to raise questions and to share ideas. Either allow all responses directly on the presentation screen, or filter messages through your tablet or smartphone and from there assign a selection to the screen. The mix of open content and polling will result in a lively session! Click here to watch a short tutorial and get yourself going!

  • Interactive presentation ideas for college? How to get a conversation going in larger classes? For interactive college ideas you’ll quickly notice how Sendsteps can help you mobilizing an entire class. Without singling out any of your students – even not the quiet ones.

    Use the open question “what do you expect from today’s course?”, let students come up with associations on a theme and put it in a live wordcloud, play a quiz based on the discussed content or let one of the students be sidekick on behalf of the class. Dare to experiment and to design your class slightly different. With it you’ll see that there’s more to asking “are there any other questions”!

We’re curious to hear more about your upcoming presentation! Reach out and let us think along with you – we like to see you shine on stage and steel the audience their hearts!