Sunday, July 12, 2009

Your top priority: "More interactive"

Another reader priority for improving her speaking, from the discussion board on our Facebook page, sounds like this:
I want to give presentations that encourage people to ask questions. My audience usually says that everything is explained well and they don't have any questions but I would like for the presentations to become more interactive.

I've got a few questions for you to ask yourself to assess how to address this problem:

  • Have you left them nothing to ask? If you're too exhaustive in covering your topic, your audience may have nothing left to say. In that case, think about focusing your talk on just one aspect of your topic--or one broad enough that you can't exhaust the topic, leaving room for questions.
  • Have you asked them about their questions first? Opening with questions is a great, dynamic way to energize an audience (and it helps you learn what they want to know). This isn't foolproof, but with popular topics, can help you get the questions on the floor early.
  • Are you inserting audience involvement throughout your presentation? You may need to think about incorporating a warm-up exercise that involves the audience; pause to ask questions during key moments of your presentation; and wind up with an ample Q-and-A session. Using all those steps in one talk gives your audience a strong signal that you want their involvement...and, over the course of your presentation, lets them warm up to those opportunities.
  • Is your topic addressing what they want to know? Your speech may give me new and complete information, and fill in blanks for me. But if it doesn't make me curious, address my issues or questions or relate to me, I'm less likely to want to engage or know more from you. Again, thinking about your focus--an unusual angle or a special emphasis--can make all the difference.

Enter our contest to work on your top 3 speaking priorities; find the contest entry details here.

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