In my public speaking training, I often get questions around how to more effectively gain audience involvement. These ‘5 Steps to Gaining Audience Involvement’ should be a good step in the right direction. As far as I see it, audience involvement is a critical piece of public speaking toolkit that everyone should employ. The reason for this is that it drives attention, contemplation and most importantly retention. If we use simple methods to keep our audience actively engaged our speech outcomes will improve dramatically.
Research & Understand Your Audience
Much of the work of connecting with the audience can be done before you ever arrive at the speech. Taking the time to get to connect and communicate with your audience via a phone call, email or connection on social media is extremely valuable. The more you learn about what they want to learn from your speech the better you can cater your content and even involvement questions.
Involve Them From the Beginning
While giving your speech, involve the audience very early in the process. Remember you are starting to build rapport, interest and enthusiasm. It makes much more sense to do this on an ongoing basis rather than at the end. Many novice public speakers who attend my training sessions will leave questions till the end of their speeches. This is a bad practice. Questions should be given early and spread throughout to engage your audience in meaningful ways.
Ask Important Questions
The power of asking appropriate questions is an often overlooked by the beginning speaker. With a pertinent well placed question you can gain a deeper level of audience involvement than you ever imaged. If you have accomplished my first recommendation and researched your crowd you would have a list of questions that the audience wants you to address. Plan for questions in your speech and your audience will gain even deep knowledge and insights from your speech content.
Small Group Activities
Pairing audience members up for short related exercises on the content you are presenting can be a winning way to drive engagement. The group will start to explore the concepts you are presenting and you will see and hear their feedback. Asking members to report back after such activities gives you a chance for definitive audience involvement in your speeches.
Passion is an often overlooked yet powerful way to gain audience involvement. One truism of public speaking is that audiences will match the energy level of the speaker. If you, choose to be enthusiastic and show it in effective body language and vocal variety the audience will match your energy level. So remember to show the passion you have for the subject or they will think you aren’t excited and follow your lead.
Involvement will not only drive your audiences attention but boost retention and positive outcomes. Listeners/attendees will gain more from your speeches/presentations and your feedback will be equally positive. These are but a few of the many methods for engaging your audience. Let me know how they work for you. How will you engage your next speaking audience? Did you find these public speaking tips helpful? If so, leave a comment below or join us on social media to get expert advice, videos and training on improving your public speaking & leadership skills.