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.

Eye Contact

media training

The eyes say it all.

They are the gateway to the soul, but without good eye contact you will never convince anyone to hire, buy, or even fall in love.   And it’s been that way since the days of the cave man --- where often it made the difference between life and death.

 Eyes provide details of our emotions, intentions, respect and confidence.  Think of when you might have been left out of a group when someone holding court doesn’t look your way.   Or when someone’s lying -- chances are they are looking away or up to the left.   It immediately puts you off.


I tell my clients that eye contact makes your words more memorable.  Studies show

a mere 30 percent of time spent making eye contact can mean a significant increase in what people remember.

And eye contact makes people more honest.   Countless studies have been done leaving money on a street … When eye contact was made, those who found it were far more likely to try to return it.

But the question clients always ask is … how long should I hold someone’s gaze before it becomes uncomfortable.    Research has shown that most people are comfortable with about 3.2 seconds of eye contact from a stranger, while another found that you should look someone in the eye 50% of the time while speaking, 70% while listening. 

 A good trick is to look at your interviewer’s eyes long enough to register what color they are before looking away.

Another is to imagine a triangle on the other person’s face around their eyes and mouth … then change your gaze every seven seconds from one point on the triangle to another.

And when in front of a large group, I divide the room into threes … like slices of pie.   Then I make sure I look at people in each slice as I speak.

By the way other research shows bosses tend to make more eye contact with workers they see as high performers.

So be confident and look ‘em in the eye.  It works every time.



media training

When is the last time you really listened to someone?

We have a problem in our communication skills – few people really LISTEN -- providing, of course, you can drag them away from their texts for a conversation.

My mother used to say you have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Put another way --- “Be a good listener. Your ears will never get you in trouble.”

I believe that the single most important key to success is to be a good listener.

But how do you do that in today’s world of short attention spans?

First-- be attentive -- use your eye contact … listen for twice as long as you speak.

Don’t check that aforementioned phone or watch … it’s just plain rude

And don’t be that person who looks over someone’s shoulder to see if there’s another more interesting someone behind them

Have positive body language-- lean in, don’t fidget or cross your arms and show empathy with your expressions

Be totally focused on the speaker with an open mind –meaning don’t simply wait for your chance to jump in … ask questions.

A good listener has a profound impact –they are memorable and listening to others stories will help you become a great communicator Remember this:

“Speak in such a way that others love to listen to you. Listen in such a way that others love to speak to you.”

Impostor Syndrome

Imposter Syndrome

The other day a client worriedly told me she “wasn’t the equal” of the other members of a panel she was on for a very large, very prestigious event.   And she asked: am I suffering from Impostor Syndrome. My answer: a resounding YES!!!

Imposter syndrome, by definition “is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a "fraud".”  

So to ensure I’m not being an imposter writing about this …  I googled it. And discovered really cool, really successful people feel the same way … like Tina fey and John Steinbeck … even Maya Angelou … who wrote “I have written eleven books, but each time I think, ‘uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.’ “

Guess what … one study suggests 70% of us experience imposter syndrome at some point in our careers.   

Plus I believe the problem is only getting worse because of Instagram and Facebook – we fall into a trap of comparing ourselves with others.  On face value, it seems they have authentic lives and ours sucks. The truth is usually something far different.

So what do we do when the feeling overwhelms us – that we’ll be “FOUND OUT”?

First: write down your accomplishments.  Lists make you realize what you truly have done.  Your concrete value.

Stop trying to be perfect.  That pressure leads to the syndrome.

Remember compliments:  that reinforcement will bolster confidence.

And take some action --- talk to your mentor or friends, risk doing that panel, conquer your fears.  And believe it or not, smiling helps.

As I told my client … you’ve earned the spot … and never forget -- you know more than the audience-- otherwise they wouldn’t be there and neither would you.  

Plus:  true imposters don’t suffer from the imposter syndrome.   It would never occur to them!