Audience Interactivity


Recently an executive I was working with said --- I really want to make my presentation a lot more interactive.   So how do I do that?   Wisely he understood that with attention spans in the US at a whopping 8 seconds (shorter than that of a goldfish feeding according to Microsoft … how’d they figure that out?   That’s another story) something has to happen to keep people engaged.


Interactivity is a big buzzword out there in the communications world.  But you can’t just dream it and do it.   I believe it begins with respecting your audience.  Asking yourself ahead of time – what do they really want to know, need to know and how can I get them there.


Most every “expert” agrees that interactivity is important because learning improves with engagement.   If we hear it or see it clearly, we understand and we remember.  And if we don’t know what’s coming next --- we stay on our toes.   Think college lecture – when you listened because you were afraid you might be called on next.  


But in order to be more interactive you must first be willing to relinquish some control… it’s not just you reciting information, using slides, and saying at the end “questions?”


Nope.   You must ENGAGE.


I like to start with a question --- rhetorical usually.  But it immediately lets the audience know you care about their opinion or thought


Then build into your presentation places where you can prompt a discussion or ask for questions.   Perfect example:  I put a goldfish on my screen and say --- anybody know what this means?   After some pretty funny responses, it leads me to attention spans.  


You must also be willing to use your body language more effectively.   Perhaps it’s a strategic movement that keeps people’s attention.   Or you use that wonderful voice of yours to change up in variety.  Loud, soft, fast, slow pace, tone … PAUSE .. all of that demands attention and keeps people guessing.


And finally sprinkle your call to action throughout the presentation.   Words like “this is what works” or “here’s a big opportunity” … and the most underused but effective word … WHY?  


Do this .. and your audience will not only pay attention – but retell your messages.