Tips to engage your audience during a presentation
Even the most confident business people get nervous when presenting and doing this in English adds to the stress factor even more. It doesn’t help to know that most people are not really listening during presentations either. They might be reading their text messages, emails or even sleeping! So knowing how to engage your audience is important if you want them to remember what you presented and achieve your objectives. Seeing them interested in what you have to say will also help reduce your stress.
It all starts at the beginning. As mentioned in the unit “Tips to open your presentation with impact”, your introduction will decide if your audience will be interested in what you have to say in your presentation.
Tell a story
- This story could start before your actual presentation, and the end is only after you’ve finished your presentation. This will keep your audience curious about what the end will be.
- Tell a personal story so that the audience can relate to you, with an ending that shows how you improved from doing what you’re going to tell them in the presentation.
- Make your whole presentation like a story, with a nice beginning, a conflict in the middle and a happy ending at the end.
Open with a hook
- Start with a thought provoking question that will create drama or make them think about the answer
- As “What if…” “Imagine if…” Picture this…” “Think of…” questions. It gives your audience a sense of what will happen if they choose to listen to you and follow your advice.
- Make a shocking statement (but be aware of cultural differences in each country and try not to offend)
- Use bold numbers/statistics to get a reaction
- Keep your audience engaged by asking them questions during the presentation
- Ask them to raise their hands if they agree with something you’ve said
- Use their names when asking questions
- Have an answer and question session
- Makes jokes that are connected to the topic, but be aware of the cultural context so you don’t offend anyone
- To make sure your jokes are funny, test it on some colleagues or friends before you try it during the presentation
You can also try to change the format of your slides in the middle of the presentation by adding videos, images or animation.
Most importantly, to be able to engage your audience, you need to be authentic, to be yourself. People will connect to someone who doesn’t seem false. So to feel comfortable presenting using all these tips, you need to practise, practise and practise!