Feb 5, 2009

Engage the Audience: what why how (Part 1 of 2)

Recall the last presentation you attended. What do you remember? What was the topic and what was the core idea? Were you excited during the presentation or waiting for the speaker to finish. If the answer is in the negative, then the presenter was unable to 'engage' you.

If you search 'how to engage your audience' Google will throw 1.2million search results in 0.07 seconds flat! But what do you mean by audience engagement during a presentation?

understanding?
involvement?
attention?


Are you sure? Think about it before you read on.

This two part post is an exploration in audience engagement. In Part I (which is now) we will understand what engagement means and why is it needed? In Part II I will discuss how to engage your audience.


So, what is audience engagement?


Did you think about it?
Most people assume that we all know what 'engagement' means. Yet if you ask 5 people what engagement means to them, you are likely to get atleast 3 different answers.


The word 'engagement' does not only mean to 'get attention' but it also means to 'hold
attention'. You cannot let go of what you have already got! You can start your next business review presentation by dancing on the podium (you get attention) but you will lose all of it (and much more) after you have stopped being Micheal Jackson.

The word engagement means all of the following:


get attention

hold attention

induce involvement


which will lead to:
understanding &
recall (audience remembers what you told them)


Why do you need engagement?

I don't think there is any debate on that. You can present to inform, entertain, educate, discuss, decide, seek or change. To fulfil each one of these objectives, you need to ensure the audience is engaged. They are attentive, they are involved, they understand and they remember. Next time when you are conceptualizing your presentation and designing your slides remember to ask yourself these questions:


Is this making sense?

Is this going to generate interest?

Is this going to be understood in its current form?

Will this induce people to think / to ask / to discuss?


If the answer to these questions is a NO then remove that content from your presentation.

Before you go to Part II and find out 'how you can engage the audience' I would like you to answer a simple question?

What do you currently do to engage your audience? Leave a comment.