Interact With Your Listeners: Step Out of Yourself and Join The Audience

Interacting With Your Audience is Important

The thing about a terrific business presentation is you aren’t even aware it’s a business presentation. Obviously, if the purpose of the meeting is to pitch an idea or deliver the results of the most recent fiscal quarter, everyone knows why you’re there. But when you can put together a really dynamic and fun presentation and make your presentation interactive, it takes the “business” out of the “business presentation” so what you’re left with is a dialogue that is both entertaining and informative.

Does this sound ridiculous? Maybe bit unprofessional?

Too many people have a pre-conceived notion of what a business presentation is supposed to look like: power suits, expertly polished wingtip shoes, a fine Italian leather briefcase. I’m not sure corporate America was ever really like that. If it was, it sure looks a lot different today.

Today’s business presentations are about getting your message across effectively, convincingly and FAST. Your suit may have set you back $3,000, but it’s worthless compared to your ability to connect with your listeners and keep them interested. Don’t underestimate the power of audience engagement.

Start the Conversation, Don’t Dominate It

The truth is, most audiences expect to be spoken to; very few anticipate an interactive experience, especially in a business presentation.

Get your audience involved in your presentation early—and keep them involved. Better yet, tell them you expect them to participate so they feel welcome to speak up and share their ideas. Ask them questions. Rather than you dominating the conversation, find out what they want to get out of it and then reformulate your presentation to deliver that. Whatever you can do to step into the audience and bring them into the presentation, do it. Because your listeners will get bored if they’re expected to just sit and listen, and you’ll get bored, too.

Make Your Presentation Interactive

Can this approach really be applied to business presentations? Absolutely.

Let’s pretend you’re pitching your company’s latest gadget to a group of investors. If you’re successful, this group will give you the $5 million you need to put this new device into production. How will you make this an interactive presentation?

  1. Let them try it out. If you have a prototype, pass it around the let them see for themselves how it works.
  2. Invite their questions on how the gadget works, what it’s made from, who would most likely use it, etc.
  • Ask each of them questions (nothing too personal!) to get a sense of what they do and the things they like, and then show them how your gadget will help them specifically.
  • Audience participation doesn’t happen by chance. You will never come across an audience that is spontaneously interactive. As the presenter, it’s your job to encourage and foster that involvement.  Put some thought into how you can engage your audience so that you can experience your presentation as one of them. You can learn a lot from listening to what other people in the room have to say.

    Make Your Presentation Interactive

    Business presentations don’t have to be stuffy or boring. They don’t have to be long, and they certainly don’t have to be a one-sided conversation. What they do need to be is engaging—for the audience and for you. When you bring your listeners into the presentation, you’re showing them that you value their involvement. They’ll feel invested in your presentation and they’ll be more likely to stay engaged.

    As an audience member, how do you feel about being brought into the presentation? Share your thoughts in the Comments section or visit us on our social media channels. We’re on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ and we’d love to hear your advice.

    2 thoughts on “Interact With Your Listeners: Step Out of Yourself and Join The Audience”

    1. I think the conversational aspect of presentations is so important and so often forgotten. It keeps the audience engaged and interested and then we don’t have to worry about spending so much time doing all the talking and can take a moment to relax.

    2. Good post, a lot of people only speak and dont engage enough with people, like teacher in old times. Good advice, its very important to be flexible and be part of the crowd and connect with the audience.

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