“There’s not much point in spinning a yarn if your audience keeps losing the thread.”

― P.K. Shaw

Presentations aren’t simply about your ideas, company or services. Building a connection with your audience is equally important.

You have to engage your audience and eliminate distractions during your speech. A tough audience will keep you on your toes and tough questions will test your knowledge. But, your presentation’s success depends on more than your ability to navigate these challenges.

Ask yourself…

Does my audience feel like they are part of the conversation?

Have I invited them to participate in the discussion?

This two-part series reveals 12 ways in which you can interact directly with your audience. Plan ahead and choose an activity or method that fits your message and time limit.

1. Opening

Start your presentation with an audience question. This is the simplest and easiest way to break the ice. Place before them an unexpected or interesting query related to the topic. Encourage them to come up with answers. The ‘Ask yourself…’ earlier in this post is a perfect example.

2. Show of hands

To gain real-time feedback, use this technique anytime during your presentation – beginning, middle or right at the end. You can ask them a question, seek their opinion, or simply request a Yes or No answer on a number or statistic.

3. Quote a member

You may have asked some members for their opinions prior to or during the course of your speech. Quote a member who provides a best-fit or out of the box answer. This works on three levels. The person you quoted feels valued. The audience is encouraged to participate. They relate better to that particular point or idea, as the answer comes from someone like them.

4. Use audience as example

Instead of using fictional characters or generic personas in your examples, use real names from the audience. This piques their interest and makes them more attentive. Your audience is able to relate to your message, clearly understand and remember it.

5. Set Challenges

Nothing perks up an audience (professionals or otherwise) more than a friendly competition. Quizzes, tests, and games that are specific to the theme, allow your audience to interact with you and each other. Add a small but cool prize to involve more members.

6. Seek Introductions

This will probably be time consuming for larger audiences. If you’re conducting a training or coaching session, ask your listeners to introduce themselves. This reveals the diversity in the room. Let them state in one line what they hope to get out of your presentation. Their answers help you address specific issues or scenarios they face.


Have you felt valued as an audience member? Which of these ideas appealed to you as a presenter?

Stay tuned for the next part where I explore more options for direct audience involvement.  


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