Nine Ways to Keep Your Audience Engaged During a PresentationWe recently talked about traits of great leaders and how they communicate in a variety of ways. Some people like charts, others like text, and some are visual.

Good leaders know there is more than one way to communicate and they incorporate all of these elements into presentations.

So how do they keep the audience listening, focused, and engaged?

Bruna Martinuzzi wrote an article on this very topic for Open Forum called “How to Keep Your Audience Focused on Your Presentation.”

The nine tips she offered to help deliver an engaging presentation are:

Remember the 10-minute Rule

Most presenters forget attention wanes after about 10 minutes. When creating your presentation, plan to have a strategic change every 10 minutes then use a different medium to present the next segment. Changes can be anything from showing a video clip, asking the audience a question, or telling a relevant story.

Don’t Forget Multimedia

Vision trumps all other senses. If we add a picture to a message, the message is loud and clear. Text-based slides are not effective in grabbing attention and maintaining it. You can get quality images from sites such as iStockphoto and Fotolia. You can also find a relevant video to help make your points. Multimedia will help break up your presentation into smaller chunks.

Put Bullets in Graphics

Back to the visual. Show some bullets on your slides in a visual way. Try and stand out from the crowd. Martinuzzi suggests using diagrams from sites such as DuarteSlideshop, or Prezi.

Honor the Audience

Switch the focus of attention from you to them. A few ways to do this are asking questions designed to get a verbal response, give them a game or exercise, encourage them to ask questions, or ask polling questions about their opinions. This will perk up the audience and get their attention.

Don’t Just Lecture

Instead of lecturing, Martinuzzi suggests presenting part of your presentation in the form of a mind map. Draw it on a flipchart, and as you speak animate the mind map in your slide.

There is also mind mapping software such as Matchware or Mindjet. Also, lighten up. Telling a few jokes. Being animated or just walking around the room will engage the audience and make them want to hear more.

Connect the Dots for the Audience

Help your audience understand where you’ve been and where you’re headed. If people can see the flow of your presentation, they will easily follow along. Using transitions such as “The first reason was… Now I’ll address the second reason” will help the flow of your presentation. Transitions such as “What does this mean for us?” or “The one thing to remember is…” will help the audience understand why they should care.

Have a Repertoire of Questions

Use questions to keep the conversation going. A few questions to use are “What led you to this conclusion?,” “How would you explain this?,” “How does this tie in with xyz,?” “Could you give me an example of what you mean?,” and “Tell me more.”

Slides are Not Your Speaking Notes

Remember, visual trumps auditory. A lot of speakers continue to use their slides, dense with text, and expect the audience to follow along as they speak.

Avoid Late Presentations

Presenting between 7 and 11 a.m. is the optimal time. If possible, avoid presenting right after lunch.

What tricks do you use during a presentation to keep your audience engaged?

Image: LeWEB12.

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