The number one way most people like to draw their audience in and become more interactive is by spontaneously asking questions of people in the audience. I don’t recommend doing that for the following reason. In the first eight to ten minutes of your presentation, an audience is trying to find out how what you are saying matters to them. So you should spend that time talking to your audience. If you need to ask a question, ask them one they can answer by simply raising their hands. Demonstrate this at the front of the room by raising your hand as you ask the question.
If, in the middle of your presentation, you want group interaction, make it comfortable for them by doing the following:
1. Ask them to turn to their partner and do an activity such as answering the question you ask, sharing information, or doing an activity.
2. Then have them turn to someone else in their group to repeat the exercise. This gives them confidence that they’ve already stated their thoughts or opinions to one person and it’s been received well; they have now shared it with a second person and it’s been received well, so sharing in front of the room won’t be as scary.
3. Then ask them to pull together as a big group and share some of the answers. Write them down on a flip chart. This promotes high audience involvement because you’ve lowered the risk for the audience to be involved.
You need to be willing to go where the audience needs to go. Don’t be tied to your visuals for your presentation. Instead, be tied to your audience and what you are trying to achieve with that audience.
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