Sheila B Robinson

Reflections of an everyday educator/program evaluator/professional developer…LEARNER

Presentation Principles: Two simple strategies for audience engagement and all YOU have to do is ask questions!


Presentation Principle:

Keeping an audience engaged throughout the presentation is one key to success.

Do you want to read about two super easy strategies you can immediately incorporate into your presentation practice to keep audience members engaged? OK then, here we go!

I’ve written about audience engagement strategies many times (see here, here, and here)…but the two strategies I’ll share today are even easier than most and require no special equipment or materials. All you need to do is remember to use them. 

Strategy 1: Before giving the audience a story, example, strategy or other bit of your content, ask them if they would like to hear it. It’s that simple. Instead of just telling – launching into the story – stop and ask. Don’t worry! You’re not likely to get “no” for an answer, especially if you have successfully kept them engaged up until this point.

Spice it up a bit and you’ll get some smiles and giggles if you you ask “Do you want to hear the good story or the bad story?” “Do you want the real story or the edited version?” “Do you want the easy example, or are you ready for the hard one?”

I saw an expert presenter use this one recently with an audience of 100+ and it worked like a charm!

Hands up to answer question

Image credit: Blondinrikard Fröberg via Flickr

Strategy 2: After you have delivered some content, ask the audience to identify and reflect on a few action steps they intend to take after the presentation. You can ask them to think on their own, or work within teams if that is appropriate. The real key to this strategy, though, is asking them to state their action steps out loud. With a small audience, ask each member to share one or two action steps aloud. With a larger audience, ask them to share at their tables, or for a final interactive strategy, get them up and moving into larger groups to share their action steps. Sharing aloud increases individual accountability and may increase the likelihood that audience members will put new learning into practice.

Author: Sheila B Robinson, Ed. D

Custom Professional Learning, LLC

2 thoughts on “Presentation Principles: Two simple strategies for audience engagement and all YOU have to do is ask questions!

  1. Thanks Sheila – great ideas!

    I love the questions about which story the audience would like to hear, and I’m sure people would respond really well to being asked. I reckon they’d be flattered that they get to take such an active role in how the talk unfolds.

    In a webinar, to my mind those would be far better audience interactions than the standard polls you hear all the time. (I ranted about that before.)

    • Thanks for you comment Craig! While many questions you may ask (such as the one you pose in the blog you reference – How’s the pace of this webinar?) are intended to seek the audience’s opinion or feeling on something and then be able to adjust your presentation to meet their needs, this one’s a bit sneaky! Most of the time, when you’re asking which story they want to hear, you know the answer. In fact, it’s almost as if YOU know that THEY know, too, but since it’s all in fun, people tend to laugh and go along with you. And you know how even a tiny does of good humor can go a long way to boost your presentation’s success! 🙂

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