Anyone can stand up and speak to an audience.
Even if you’re deathly afraid of public speaking, you can squeak out a few words on stage.
However, rarely do you come across a person who speaks TO the audience and not AT them.
You may be thinking, “Well yeah, but I’m the exception. I’m a fantastic presenter!”
I don’t want to flatten your ego, but there’s always room to learn, my friends.
The average presenter is comfortable on stage. He or she is very well spoken, even charming in their delivery. They make you laugh, learn and think.
All of this is great, but in order to take your presentations to the next level, it’s imperative that you reach out and personally engage with your audience. They need to know that you care about them, that you are tailoring your message and speaking directly to their hearts and minds. We’re all people, here! (Unless you’re speaking to a group of animals or talking to yourself…)
This idea of audience engagement is often overlooked. The audience is usually unaware of its absence. The presenter feels confident enough that he or she disregards or forgets it. Like I said, the majority of presentations you will see or have seen do not involve the conversation, the engagement.
But do you really want to just be average?
No! Your audience deserves to be a part of the presentation, to be involved in the experience.
If you don’t believe in this stuff, look at it this way: If you simply regurgitate your slides or relay some tid bits of information, your audience might remember it. That funny joke you said might be repeated at the water cooler. BUT, if you involve them, if you ask them questions and listen to answers, they will absolutely remember the way you made them feel. They felt important, and they felt your message resonate with them because they were a part of the explanation.
Feelings trump logic any day of the week. Look it up!
So, how do you do it, this conversation thing?
Well, it’s really quite simple. Have a conversation! Be open to questions or comments. Feedback is your best friend when engaging your audience. Pose questions. Get answers. Get the audience moving and smiling. Keep the blood flowing!
Depending on the size of the audience, you may be limited to certain activities, but nonetheless it is still important to maintain the audience engagement whether speaking to a crowd of 5 or 5,000. An audience is an audience, and they still need to be a part of the conversation despite their size. You can still ask questions, and even get answers, when presenting to a large crowd.
So, in your next presentation, remember to engage your audience. Remember to be different, to not simply sell an idea, but to create cohesiveness between a concept and a person. Bridge the gap between talking and sharing.
Spark the conversation!