We’ve been training professionals to communicate effectively and interact in their presentations for years; engaging others is the foundation of good communications, good marketing and sales, great fundraising, teaching, persuading and inspiring. Yet people who may do this in everyday conversations normally seem to forget to interact in a presentation, meeting or talk. All too often clients tell me that they used to go into ‘tell’ mode (which they’d never dream of doing if they were in a “normal” conversation). They look like they are pushing their information at people. This is a very old-fashioned approach, yet it is rife in organisations – large and small alike – in the UK and across the Western world. We all tend to prefer an approach that pulls us in because of not many of us like being spoken at or told what to do!
Instead, High-Performance Presentations (as described in the book of the same name) work brilliantly when they engage the audience when they ‘pull’ them in, so they want to listen and are almost asking you for more. To be more engaging then fundamentally you need to plan your presentations around what the audience wants to hear and this is exactly what we cover in our “Present Like a Pro” programme.
The foundation to audience interaction is to develop your presentation with an audience focussed approach using the Simply Amazing Structure. Once you’ve mastered that you are ready to read on and learn three of our insider secrets to overt advanced audience interaction below.
1. Understand your audience’s starting point
Different people in your audience will have different levels of experience, understanding or buy-in. For you to interact with them well, you need to know where they are starting from in their “journey”.
You can ask the audience questions that help you tailor your content to where they are in that moment. For example, plenty of clients come to learn how to give an influential sales pitch and as part of that we might suggest they ask a question like…
2. How to guarantee even a British audience will respond!
British audiences don’t tend to be fans of interacting (we like to be reserved!). To create an environment where even us Brits feel comfortable you must encourage the audience and lead by example.
For example, if you ask “how many people here are already using X product?”
Encourage people to engage and pop their hands up too by:
3. Make sure you are inclusive
Never leave people out of your interactions – ensure everyone in the audience is involved by asking the question you want to ask, and then the opposite question too.
For example, you might want to ask, “who here has completed their prep work?”
“and who here hasn’t yet had a chance to do their prep work yet?”
And finally – you want to aim for 100% of the audience to have raised their hands – to do that you may need to improvise to include the others – for example:
“and who’s not going to raise their hands whatever I ask!”
There is plenty more information on audience interaction including more subtle covert interaction techniques in our book High-Performance Presentations and in our training courses.
If you would like to learn how to improve your presentations skills then take a look at our presentation training courses or contact us today to talk through any questions you may have.