Have you ever been to a conference, presentation, or meeting where you zoned out after the first 30 seconds? I think we all have. The topic is interesting, but the execution of the material is mind-numbingly boring. If you want the people in the room to buy-in to your idea, purchase your product, or even provide constructive feedback to your proposal, it is essential that you engage your audience.
I’ve started using a brand new tool for all of my presentations, Beautiful.ai. I loved it so much, I’ve partnered with them. Beautiful.ai is easy to use and helps you create bold and beautiful slides, has a built-in library of eye-catching images and templates that will best illustrate your talks. I’m using it, you should too!
Here are 10 easy and helpful ways to boost your audience engagement:
1. Planning Your Presentation
You wouldn’t take a test without studying, so why would you give a presentation without preparing? Take the time to properly research the material you plan to present and become intimately familiar with your subject matter. Then, take the time to lay out and organize your thoughts and ideas.
- A flowchart or outline will help you get your ideas organized so you can begin to build your presentation.
- Give your presentation structure. It should follow a logical sequence and not bounce around.
- Use a tool like Beautiful to make a visually pleasing presentation that’s easy to create.
2. Focus on Your Target Demographic
This is a huge factor when it comes to increasing audience engagement. Tailor your presentation to your audience. Research your audience before your presentation and find out the demographics of the group. Know what company they are from, their position, and how you can help them.
3. Keep Visuals Limited
When you build your presentation, think about what’s going to make an impression on your audience. To keep them focused on your and your talk, limit how much text you put on your slides. If your audience can read your slides to get all of the information, why do they need you? Focus instead on adding striking visuals and speaking about your content rather than simply reading off the slide.
4. Keep it Clear
If your audience is unfamiliar with your idea, product, or industry, don’t use industry-specific jargon, acronyms, and concepts that they won’t understand. Refer to #2 and cater your presentation to your audience. Knowing who you’re speaking to will help you prepare language that is appropriate, and anticipate what questions they might want answered.
5. Be Deliberate in Your Delivery
Practice your presentation! Practice in the mirror at home, to your spouse or coworker, just practice! Also, find balance in your movement–have some energy, but don’t be all over the place. You want your audience focused on your content, not the sweat beads forming at your temples because you’ve walked a quarter-mile across the front of the room.
6. Make it Fun
We’ve all sat in 30-minute meetings that seemed to last an eternity. Audience engagement is the key to avoiding that situation when you are the presenter. Even if the topic is technical and dry, you can still make the presentation fun. Make your presentation memorable by allowing the audience to interact with you. Make them laugh. Tell a story that evokes emotion. Have an icebreaker or small group breakout session if the format allows.
7. Leverage Tech Resources
If you don’t engage your audience, within a couple of minutes everyone is going to be on their smartphones checking emails, playing games, or catching up on social media– pretty much doing anything other than paying attention to you. But, don’t assume that technology is against you. Encourage social media use before, during, and after the event. Create polls and have your audience respond on their smartphones throughout the presentation. Create a unique Twitter, Instagram or Facebook hashtag for your event.
8. Make it Relatable
Don’t get up in front of a room full of people, read off a bunch of facts and technical information, and expect people to be impressed. Make it relatable. Everyone likes to feel like they are part of the story. Tell your audience about your own experience, share something personal, and make your message stick.
9. Set the Room Up for Success
If you have the option, be strategic about setting up your room in a way that encourages audience engagement. Don’t set up 200 chairs for an audience of 50, everyone will sit in the back. Force people to the front. Make them sit next to one another. Get them engaged and talking to each other. Utilize all of the space and don’t confine yourself to the front of the room.
10. Don’t Stop to Let the Audience Read Your Slides
We already covered that you shouldn’t be reading your slides. But it’s also important not to stop in the middle of your presentation to let your audience members read your slides. First, you shouldn’t have so much text on your slides that the audience needs more time than you spend talking about the slide to read it. Keeping text short and to the point will leave more room for visual media that will leave a more lasting impression and increase your audience engagement.