Involving your audience in a presentation – a great way to make them feel special

Public speaking tips tick

Ok ok ok, so nearly every post I write mentions your audience and how important they are – but it’s true, without them you’d just be talking to yourself (a sign of madness!).

Making your audience feel special, involved and valued in your speech can benefit you and them in many ways;

- Increased feelings of satisfaction and belonging for your audience
- A greater understanding of the message you are attempting to convey
- An increased enjoyment of your speech

(All of the above are beneficial to you as the speaker!).

So how do you make your audience feel special? Here are my top tips on making your audience feel valued by you, the speaker.

1. Quote the audience.

Reference a point made by an audience member earlier during your presentation or in a past encounter. For example, ‘As David said earlier, oil is nowadays much more commonly found beneath seas and oceans’. This will make David feel valued, demonstrate to your audience that you are willing to listen to and take on board good comment and feedback and encourage further comments from your audience in future.

2. Ask rhetorical questions. Get your audience thinking. Their thoughts will quickly become comments and interaction, which will make everyone in the room feel involved in a positive, energetic discussion or workshop – most of us can relate to how great it feels to leave a room feeling that you have been part of something really useful and constructive for everyone involved.

3. Ask non-rhetorical questions. If you’ve been parachuted in as the ‘expert’ speaker, your audience will feel especially loved if you value them enough to ask their opinions, thoughts and views on the topic on which you are speaking. However much you may have been paid or bribed to speak, never forget that everyone secretly loves the sound of their own voice too.

4. Use the audience as an example. Much like quoting your audience, using audience members as example characters within your speech or presentation keeps your audience awake and on their toes (who will be used as the next example?!) and increases their buy-in and propensity to remember the points that you are making. It’s a proven fact that we’re more likely to remember something that has been explained to us using people we know as examples, than generic characters or names.

5. Challenge your audience. Give them a prize. Do you ever remember a quiz, test or challenge that you didn’t enjoy where there was chocolate (or an even greater prize_) up for grabs?!

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Rich Watts is the UK Business Speaker of the Year and a past JCI National Public Speaking champion. He setup and now runs Rich Public Speaking providing presentation skills and public speaking training.

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