One of the most common questions I get from professional speakers and wannabe speakers is how to keep their audience interested. I get it. Nobody wants to be up there speaking when no one is paying attention or listening. Ugh! It's the utmost in rejection!! So, here are some super easy tips to engage your audience that you can begin using immediately.
Remember the 8-ball? It was the "thing" when I was growing up. We would shake it and ask a question to see what the answer would be. There were only 5 or 6 answers, but it was fun! It was ENGAGING.
Keeping your audience interested, is as simple as INVOLVING them. And, there are a ton of ways to do that. Here's a list that will help you think of more ways:
(Do I have to say this? Yes. It bears repeating and reminding.)
Ok, now here's the list:
Use Questions - whether your audience answers them or not - questions are the #1 way to go.
Make Eye contact - zero in on people and make meaningful eye contact.
Call out audience members - in a smaller setting, you can use audience member's names.
Acknowledge something about the audience (their town, their energy, their time, their attention, etc.)
Ask for a volunteer. Have the come up to the front or the stage - where ever you are.
Have audience members partner up to do a shared exercise.
Have them write something down.
Ask someone to write on the white board or flip chart (ask, "who has good handwriting" or "who likes to write on white boards?")
Ask questions like, "how many people XYZ" or "who has ever XYZ" or "who owns an XYZ" and have people raise their hands.
Ask if anyone has any questions.
Give a quiz.
Have handouts and ask someone to help you hand them out.
Go over the handouts.
Ask someone to read something out loud - whether it's on a PowerPoint or in a handout or book
Give an assignment during the presentation or during the break
Have people stretch.
Have them sing a song.
Have them dance (you supply the music) - seriously!
Have them share what they learned.
Have them share what they got out of an exercise, assignment, or paired share.
If you are exceptionally funny and entertaining, you have achieved the ultimate in audience involvement. By being funny (where the audience is laughing) and by being entertaining, you have succeeded in keeping the audience interested. Your passion and talent is important. But, notice that successful entertainers do some of the things in the list above. It's still all about getting the audience involved. Whether the audience is laughing or raising their hands, to keep them interested, you must have them lean in - and that means, get them involved. Get them involved and connect with them. Be passionate and be authentic (it makes you relatable!).
I have one last question for you! It's my One Big Question Survey. Click here to take this really short survey. And, please, leave your comments, suggestions, and ideas below. Happy Speaking!