You know your next presentation will be more impactful if your audience participates rather than watches from afar. But you also want to avoid the awkward silence and general confusion that typically follows a speaker asking—or begging—people in the audience to speak up. Plus, it’s not always feasible to facilitate spontaneous interactions with volunteers during large group events.
Incorporating audience participation into your next presentation is a matter of planning ahead. Here are four ideas for getting spectators involved without derailing the flow of your session.
You begin your presentation neutral terms. That is, your audience has no particular loyalty to you or the subject matter at hand. It’s your job to forge this connection. If you can win your audience over right off the bat, they’ll receive the remainder of your presentation more positively. Audience participation can be a catalyst for caring in this respect.
Your opener sets the tone. Is your presentation going to be a one-way flow of information? Or are you hoping to foster a more collaborative environment? If you’re aiming for the latter, make your opening interactive. You can easily accomplish this by asking for a show of hands on a few key questions related to your topic. This simple action helps bond everyone in the room as they look around at the sea of hands moving up and down.
You can also ask for audience predictions at the outset, circling back later in your presentation to confirm or disprove these guesses.
Host A Live Q&A Session
One glaring issue with one-way presentations is they leave little room for constructive discussion. And, if an audience member feels left behind, they tend to stay that way for the duration. Creating your presentation with interactive Google Slides makes it easy to embed interactive Q&A technology. All an audience member needs to submit a question is a mobile device. Participants can also upvote questions, which sends the most pressing inquiries straight to the top. That way, you’ll notice them and be able to address them in real time.
Demonstrate A Concept
“Show, don’t tell” is a good rule of thumb for communicating. People don’t want to just hear you talk about something; they want to see it in action. Depending on the nature of your presentation, you may be able to incorporate the audience into a helpful demonstration.
Let’s say your company just launched a new app. Sure, you can stand onstage and list its features one by one. While this information is all technically true, it lacks the same impact as actually using the app. However, if you ask your audience members to pull out their phones, download the free version of the app and follow alongside a quick demonstration, it becomes a lot more real to them.
Presentations often include live product demonstrations like these. Just make sure you’ve troubleshot any potential hiccups before you go live, and that everyone in the audience has a way to view or participate.
Create A Non-Linear Journey
We generally think of slide-based presentations as running front to back. If you have 10 slides, you present them in ascending order. Right? A new model is challenging this traditional approach. Non-linear presentations allow speakers to present their content “out of order,” precisely because they’re designed without a set order in place.
A non-linear presentation style pairs well with audience participation because you can crowdsource input on what to cover next. If people have questions about the same two or three topics, you can spend extra time on them rather than trying to cover eight topics briefly. Freedom to deliver a unique presentation based on your audience’s requests and needs will help you build rapport and make sure the right information sticks.
Consider incorporating one of these forms of audience participation into your next presentation.