Audience Analysis

One of the most common questions I get from professional speakers is how to keep their audience interested. Nobody wants to be speaking when the audience isn’t paying attention or listening. It’s the utmost in rejection.

You can avoid this dilemma by using any, some, or all of these super easy tips to engage your audience. But, first, let me ask you, what do you think is the easiest method to engage your audience? Can you guess?

Drum roll, please….THE EASIEST METHOD TO ENGAGE YOUR AUDIENCE IS ASKING A QUESTION!!! Think about it – questions are the ultimate in creating curiosity. Why? Because the mind wants to answer

Questions never fail to engage people. Speakers who don’t use them (or use them enough) are missing a great way to keep an audience interested. Think about Seinfeld – his humor is based on questions.

ACTION: Use questions all throughout your presentations – keep practicing until it becomes second nature.

Remember the Magic 8-ball? It was the “thing” when I was growing up.

We would shake it and ask a question to see what the answer would be. There were only 5 or 6 answers, but it was fun! It was ENGAGING.

Keeping your audience interested is as simple as INVOLVING them, and there are a ton of ways to do that.

#1 Rule – ALWAYS, ALWAYS, KEEP IT POSITIVE.  NEVER INSULT ANYONE!! (Do I have to say this? Yes. It bears repeating and reminding.)

Ok, now here’s a list of engagement techniques:

  • Use Questions – whether your audience answers them or not – questions are the #1 way to go.
  • Make Eye contact – zero in on people and make meaningful eye contact.
  • Call out audience members – in a smaller setting and especially virtually, use audience member’s names.
  • Acknowledge people.
  • Acknowledge something about the audience (their town, their energy, their time, their attention, etc.)
  • Ask for a volunteer. Have they come up to the front of the stage – or speak on a virtual event.
  • Have audience members partner up to do a shared exercise.
  • Have them write something down.
  • Ask someone to write on the whiteboard or flip chart (ask, “who has good handwriting” or “who likes to write on whiteboards?”)
  • Ask questions like, “how many people XYZ” or “who has ever XYZ” or “who owns an XYZ” and have people raise their hands.
  • Ask if anyone has any questions.
  • Give a quiz.
  • Have handouts (and ask someone to help you hand them out.)
  • Go over the handouts.
  • Ask someone to read something out loud – whether it’s on a PowerPoint or in a handout or book.
  • Give an assignment during the presentation or during the break.
  • Have people stretch.
  • Have them sing a song.
  • Have them dance (you supply the music) – seriously!
  • Have them share what they learned.
  • Have them share what they got out of an exercise, assignment, or paired share.

The most interesting thing happens when you keep your audience INVOLVED. The more involved they are, the better they will perceive you as a speaker! All because you made your presentation meaningful to them. You weren’t just lecturing and doing a monologue.

If you are exceptionally funny and entertaining, you have achieved the ultimate in audience involvement. By being funny (where the audience is laughing) and entertaining, you have succeeded in keeping the audience interested.

If you've ever been to a Jimmy Buffet concert, you can't help but become involved because of the giant beach ball that gets tossed around by the audience!

Your passion and talent are important. Notice that successful entertainers do some of the things in the list above. It’s still all about getting the audience involved.

“Whether the audience is laughing or raising their hands, to keep them interested, you must have them lean in – and that means, get them involved. Get them involved and connect with them.  Be passionate and be authentic (it makes you relatable!)”.

How do you keep your audience engaged? Leave your comments, suggestions, and ideas below.  Happy Speaking!

About the Author

Hi! I'm Pam. I teach entrepreneurs to be fearless & compelling speakers online and in person and how to easily promote and run their own online workshops, webinars, and online courses. 

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