how to engage an audience

Engaging Your Audience When Presenting

Presenting information to an audience is one thing. But, how well do you actually engage with your audience? I love teaching people in my Persuasive Presentation Skills Masterclasses all the elements involved in engaging your stakeholders one-on-one, in small groups and of course in large groups too.

Here are some questions that your audience members are asking. Make sure you answer them every time if you want to master your presentation skills and persuade people.

  • What does this speaker know about me?

Your role as the presenter is to reflect that you understand your audience, their thoughts, feelings and attitudes.

  • What can they tell me that I don’t already know?

Ensure that it’s clear you are not just telling your audience something they have heard before or already know in an obvious way. If you are talking about something they already know be sure to spin it a new way to give them a new perspective.

  • What’s in it for me to listen?

People are motivated by the ‘carrot and the stick’. Ensure you explain why your audience should listen and pay attention to you right here and right now.

  • Why is this relevant to me?

Be sure to manage the objections that typically arise in a presentation such as ‘I already know this”, “you don’t understand”, “I’m too busy”, or “this is not a priority for me right now”.

  • How credible is the presenter? Are they a subject matter expert?

Establish your credibility as a subject matter expert. Stories and examples are a good way to do this.

Zig Ziglar famously said: “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”. Show your audience you care about them and their needs..

  • What should I do with this information?

Sadly only 28% of audience members went back to their desk after my most recent workplace presentation and did anything with the information they heard and saw. 72% of people did absolutely nothing! Make sure this doesn’t happen when you present. Be clear and obvious about what the audience should do differently after hearing your message.

  • What happens if I do nothing after hearing this message?

If you prefer the idea of pull persuasion (bringing your audience with you) to push persuasion (forcing or coercing them to your way of thinking) it’s critical that people feel they have been given a choice in their behaviour. Explain clearly the negative and positive consequences of not doing, or doing, what you suggest.

  • What is the key message I should remember and repeat to others? 

The job of a presenter is to be ‘worthy of remark’ – in other words, to be ‘remarkable’. This means that in a new context – outside of your business presentation, audience members are compelled to repeat something you did or said. Christine Anu (famous Australian performer) talks about “which way” – it’s an indigenous way of saying “G’day! How are you today?” She asks her audience to say it to each other. And she repeats it numerous times throughout her completely fantastic keynote presentation. There’s not a soul in the room who wouldn’t then repeat that message fondly to their family and friends. “Which way?”

Answer these questions and you’ll find your presentation skills are so effective they are almost invisible. This way, you will be able to enjoy presenting to a group of engaged individuals who are more likely to change their thinking or behaviour for the better as a result of your workplace presentation. Happy Presenting!

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