I’m sure that you’ve encountered those lectures that you just dreaded going to, but had no choice and went anyway. I had a client that was giving a thought leadership presentation to an audience forced to be present because continuing education credits were on the line. Naturally this captured audience found other things to do like read newspapers, fall asleep, and play on phones, making even the best presentation ineffective.
How do you overcome an uninterested audience?
1) Hook ’em – Much like a good book, a thought leadership presentation needs a good hook to capture interest quickly.
2) Humor – Liven the mood and ease the dread by adding humor to a presentation, poke fun at a ridiculous phone call or a recently encountered experience. Make sure that the humor you add is relevant to the topic and not obscene.
3) Keep It Real – Most of the presentations you’ve likely visited follow a predictable pattern making them uneventful and uninteresting. Change up the format to allow for an activity, a skit, or even a few minutes to ask questions, this change in format will keep the audience on task.
4) Incorporate – Every person has a different learning style or a different combination of learning styles. Hands on learners and musical learners tend to be the forgotten group, but music may help everybody. Incorporate music, different visuals, or even a project if applicable into your presentation.
5) Offer Nourishment – Offering refreshments and snacks during a presentation can make audience listeners more receptive because they get immediate benefit from attending. People tend to be more receptive to information when they are full, or at least not starving; they can focus on information instead of their rumbling stomach.
6) Don’t Leave the Ear Starving – One of the reasons people fall asleep during presentations is because they use up all their energy straining to hear you. Once a listener is frustrated not being able to hear you, they zone out. Speak up and make sure that your voice is easily heard across the room without screaming.
7) Don’t Overload Your Presentation – While preparing for a presentation, consider how much content is too much. When the audience reaches full on information, you can’t push additional information into their heads. There is a fine line between enough and too much. Make sure not to cross that line and pace yourself so you are not giving all the content at once. You wouldn’t want to run through your entire presentation in ten minutes when you were supposed to talk for forty-five minutes.
8) Stimulate Your Audience – Stimulate the listeners ears with simple words that are both encouraging and involving. Complex jargon, acronyms, and high-level vocabulary words do not make you appear smarter; it creates a barrier between you and your audience.
9) Call To Action – When your presentation comes to an end, the audience should feel capable of utilizing, at least, some of the information in their lives. “Go forth and conquer,” make sure your audience has a call to action that tells them what is next.
10) Stress-less – Develop your presentation with time management in mind. Once the time has been reached or surpassed the audience doesn’t care anymore; they just want out but are trying not to be rude by exiting. Don’t force them to make that decision.
What are some ways you’ve engaged your audiences when doing a thought leadership presentation?
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