Get out of monologues – actively engage your audience in your presentation!

Many companies spend a lot of energy talking to their
target groups
to enter into a dialog with their target groups. Among other things, they use blogs and social media such as Facebook to establish closer contact with potential buyers. In this way, the entrepreneur learns more about the needs and level of knowledge of his target group. In addition, customers who actively interact with a company are more concentrated and receptive than those who are only passively entertained. This is just as much the case with your presentation. Therefore, try to engage in conversation with your audience during the presentation.

You are probably familiar with this situation from your school days and from countless presentations you have experienced in the professional world: When someone lectures on a topic for three quarters of an hour at the front, it’s easy to become unfocused and let your thoughts wander. This happens even when you’re actually interested in the subject. The division into an active part (speaker) and a passive part (audience) in every presentation bears the risk that a large part of the audience is not fully attentive, especially when explaining an important issue. To get out of the frontal teaching situation, you should actively involve your audience in your presentation. This will get your auditorium thinking and increase attention.

The advantages of active involvement

1. the audience remains attentive, is encouraged to think or even to participate,
2. the speaker gets breaks to speak and can take a short breather while the audience has something to do,
3. the presentation is loosened up by activating the audience,
4. the speaker can create a shared experience that leads to a positive underlying feeling and a greater willingness to get more buy-in for the presentation.

How do you engage your audience?

There are a number of ways to do this:

1. For example, you could use the topic of your presentation as a hook for questions to the audience. If you’re talking about a product or service, questions about your audience’s own experiences are a good way to start. Like, “How many of you have had your own experiences with XY? What have you experienced?” This also allows you to better identify whether a negative attitude is more prevalent among the audience or whether positive reports predominate.

2. You can also ask your audience for their own assessment around your topic. If you want to introduce a new model of electric car in your presentation, you could start your talk by asking what share of road traffic electric cars are likely to account for in ten years’ time.

3. you could also let the audience vote. In our example, ask who thinks that in 10 years 50% of all passenger cars will be electric cars and ask for a show of hands.

4. you can also send your audience on a fantasy journey, for example, to let an ideal end state arise in their minds that has to do with your presentation. If you want to promote the redevelopment of a city district in your presentation, you can lead the auditorium to the finished new urban area: “Imagine that where now the thoroughfare still causes permanent noise, soon a green pedestrian zone invites you to stroll …” You can also use the end of your presentation or an important section of your talk to engage in a dialogue with your audience.

5. the obligatory sentence: “Are there any questions about this?” offers a chance to get into a direct conversation with the participants. In this way, you can get immediate feedback on whether your remarks have been understood and whether your arguments are gaining approval.

Whatever type of audience engagement seems appropriate for you, you should think very carefully about where a question might fit in your presentation. The questions themselves should also be considered very carefully. There are few things more embarrassing than an audience that rolls its eyes because the speaker’s questions are inane, inappropriate, or too detached.

You can find detailed, more in-depth information in Matthias Garten’s new book “Die Magicbox für Präsentationen“.

Portrait of Trainer Matthias Garten - Expert for Presentations and PowerPointDipl.-Wirtsch.-Informatiker Matthias Garten as the expert for multimedia presentations and professional PowerPoint presentations knows about the art of professional slide design. He is an entrepreneur, speaker (TOP 100 Speaker), trainer (TOP 100 Excellence Trainer), multiple book author, presentation coach (presentation training), member of the GSA and Club 55, organizer of the Presentation Conference, Presentation Bootcamp and Presentation Rocket Day. In addition to PowerPoint and presentation training, he inspires and advises companies to present themselves even more effectively and thus stand out from competitors. He is the business owner of the presentation and PowerPoint agency smavicon Best Business Presentations and with his team has created over 15,000 professional PowerPoint presentations for over 150 industries since 1993.