Audience engagement is important – right? And perhaps even more so at conferences and all-day events. Often, when attending these events, I notice that the keynote conference speakers rarely get their audience to engage with the content in some way in the room. They don’t include activities, stories, case studies, discussions or role-plays. In conferences especially, it is essential that participants experience learning for themselves rather than just being “talked at” all day long. And part of engaging the audience is about demonstrating the usability and relevance of what you are saying right there in that moment, while they are in the room.
In my bestselling book “High Performance Presentations” by Dee Clayton (and on our “Present Like A Pro” presentation skills training courses), this is specifically covered in the “HOW” section of the Simply Amazing Structure, because so many people either miss it out, don’t know what to do or find it tricky to manage. So, let’s take a look at how to overcome that…
Reasons not to engage with the audience or do your “HOW”:
Lack of knowledge and role models – Very few people do a HOW section, and if it is done, then even fewer people do it well. That may be because people don’t have the awareness initially that they should be doing it or they don’t have anyone to learn from. (This is where a public speaking coach can play a huge role in helping you become aware of gaps as well as sharing best practices and decades of presenting experience.)
Losing control – As a conference speaker myself, I know that when working with a large group of people, it isn’t always easy to get them to do exercises. And some presenters find it too daunting to hand control over to 100 or more people in the audience – perhaps through fear that they will never get them back again or worry about those “Public Speaking Monkeys” chattering away in their head (which can be “tamed” as outlined in my book “Taming Your Public Speaking Monkeys” However, if your exercises are well thought through, and you are confident in your delivery and clear in your instructions, it’s likely all will go well.
It takes too long – Planning and presenting a good HOW section can be time-consuming, especially with larger audiences. But a small HOW can take just a few seconds, and it’s worth it. Whenever I have the privilege of speaking at conferences, I include HOW no matter how long or short my speaking slot. It may take longer than you think, and it may not go exactly as you expect it to go – that will depend on your experience! But if you remain flexible and able to think on your feet, it’s very likely to be a success. That does, of course, mean that you will have “tamed” any of those negative mind monkeys in advance.
Simply Amazing Training offers professional presentation skills training courses for individuals and companies. Have a look at our guide for our most popular one-to-one presentation skills courses and workshops or call us today for a chat; we recognise that all of our clients are different and have different needs when it comes to personal development and presentation skills coaching.