“To make our communications more effective, we need to shift our thinking from “What information do I need to convey?” to “What questions do I want my audience to ask?”

― Chip Heath

What is the value of a presentation without an attentive audience?

Zero. Nothing more than a monologue in front of the mirror.

Successful presenters know how to make their audience feel involved and satisfied. They know members understand the message and enjoy the speech more, when they are allowed to contribute.

In this second part of the series, you’ll find 6 more ways to encourage your presentation audience to participate.

The key is to plan activities and questions in advance. Be clear about your objectives, anticipate their responses, and find workarounds when your audience isn’t forthcoming.

7. Demos and Props

Invite some members to the stage. Ask them to help you demonstrate a product or use a prop. Seeing someone from their group on stage motivates others listeners. They are genuinely interested and pay more attention to what’s going on.

8. Role Playing

These are fabulous ways to get your audience to enact real-life scenarios.  Role playing activities work well in sales training. Use this technique in presentations on communications, interpersonal skills or personality development.

9. Group Exercises

Group exercises allow your participants to learn from team members and others in the audience. Use this method in business conferences or educational seminars, where you have an audience that is both similar and diverse.

10. Surveys and Worksheets

Pass on one-page worksheets or surveys with specific questions. Have them submit answers or opinions before the actual presentation. Use their responses to guide the direction of your Q&A sessions or panel discussions.

11. Video Clips

Make short video clips with ideas or suggestions from clients, experts and members of the audience. Ask the rest of them questions based on the video content. Don’t use broad or superlative statements that may be difficult to answer.  The key is to get maximum contributions from listeners in the room.

12. Incomplete Slides

This interactive method works for both live and online presentations. Blank out some information from a slide or two. This could be a fact, a statistic, most or least likely response to a scenario, or a possible outcome based on a specific choice. Ask them to make a logical or emotional guess (as required), and fill in the blanks.

Don’t forget to give them time to answer or thank them for contributing their ideas and opinions.


Have you used any of these techniques in your presentation? If you have a suggestion or tip that worked, comment on this post and let us know.

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