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13 Tips for Engaging Your Audience

Improve Your Next Presentation with These Simple Steps

Blake Roney

It’s that time. You have to give a presentation to a large audience and you want to make sure you keep them engaged from beginning to end. You’re worried about people talking and/or yawning during your presentation – or worse yet, hearing snores.

Don’t worry. By using the following tips and techniques, you can make even a presentation about civil service reform interesting:


1. Start by stating a fact that is amusing, remarkable, or troubling: A great opening “hook” statement will engage your audience from the get-go.

2. Ask powerful questions: One great way to keep audience focus is to ask a provocative rhetorical question – one that doesn’t require them to answer, but that forces them to think. If you’d like, you can even ask for a volunteer to respond.

3. Use brainstorming techniques: Ask your audience to brainstorm ideas pertaining to your presentation, such as how to solve a problem. Present a case to the audience and get them involved by having them try to solve the case by seeking “out-of-the-box” solutions. Challenge them to look for an alternative.

4. Share personal experiences: One of the best ways to teach others is through your own experiences. By sharing a personal experience, you will help your audience relate to you and help them understand what you’re trying to teach.

5. Relate to a recent event: Make your presentation timely and current by relating it to a recent current event. It is also helpful to point out something important about the particular group or setting of your presentation.

6. Demonstrate: Demonstrate what you are teaching. If you are teaching a certain skill, show the audience by asking someone to volunteer. You can also have them practice the skill with the person next to them. If you are promoting a product, do a product demonstration with an audience member.

7. Ask for examples: Rather than just providing your own examples, ask the audience for a volunteer to share some examples or experiences. It’s likely someone will have an example that will capture the point you’re trying to make. Let your audience be your partner in learning by encouraging interaction. This way, it will make it seem more like you are talking with them than to them.

8. Use role plays: Role plays are great ways to get your audience involved and engaged. Set up a role play between yourself and someone in the audience, or between multiple audience members.

9. Guided imagery: Take your audience members on a journey in their minds and make the journey as vivid as possible by describing a scene or character. They could travel in time or space, depending on your purpose.

10. Acknowledge: When group members participate in the discussion, make sure to acknowledge their contributions and build on them. This will encourage others to participate as well.

11. Include visuals: Show a compelling visual image or provide graphs and tables to help your audience learn. A short video can also do the trick.

12. Tell a humorous story: Everyone enjoys humour and by providing a funny anecdote or observation, you will make the presentation more light-hearted and entertaining.

13. Tell listeners why they should care: Make sure to explain how the product or new knowledge will help them in their current situations. Let them know what is at stake for them.

At the end of your presentation, summarise the important points and refocus. Reiterate your purpose and arguments and remind your audience what is important for them to take away from your presentation. For your closing remarks, you can use another “hook” phrase (like you did in the beginning) or provide a call to action or challenge for your audience.