How to Engage Your Audience

public speaking Apr 04, 2021

If you are one of the three out of four people who have a fear of public speaking, I want to share with a tip that will help you manage those nerves when it comes to public speaking.

Think back to your high school days or your college days when you were sitting in a class and the professor just lectured. It was so boring and you just had to sit there and endure it. Unfortunately, that’s the case in a lot of presentations we listen to, even today. We thought we left that in college and high school, but alas, we did not leave it behind.

As an audience member, I personally I want to be entertained. I want to be engaged. So why would we think that’s different when we’re on the opposite side? When you’re in the audience you want to be excited about listening to the content. Therefore, if we are the presenter, we need to make it exciting and engaging.

What do I mean? Engage their emotions. Make them cry. Make them laugh. Make them feel something! How do you do that? Tell a good story. Share testimonials or videos. Get the audience to take action by asking them questions, putting them into small groups for breakout discussions or brainstorming. Engage them through visuals such as PowerPoint, props or demonstrations.

You have lots of options, but engaging the audience is key because it is our job as presenters to keep the audience interested. For those of you who have children or you’ve been around small children and look at the TV shows they watch, you’ll notice the scenes change about every 30 seconds. This is because the people who create those shows understand the attention span of the average toddler. The same premise holds true for adults and youth. Keep in mind, there’s only so much time an audience will pay attention without being actively engaged.

Engaging the audience is my favorite part of being a speaker. It is what makes a presentation exciting to me. It is when I can get feedback from the audience, whether it’s through questions, or I can sense their emotion when they laugh. When you effectively engage the audience, it takes the pressure off of you because now people are in the moment with you. Your presentation becomes an experience. Creating an experience for your audience is the goal!