O'Reilly logo

How to Give a Pretty Good Presentation: A Speaking Survival Guide for the Rest of Us by T. J. Walker

Stay ahead with the world's most comprehensive technology and business learning platform.

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required

Chapter 14. Audience Participation

HOW SHOULD I ENCOURAGE THE AUDIENCE TO PARTICIPATE (IF AT ALL?)

You are probably wondering, "Why would I want to engage the audience? That sounds scary! I'd like my audience to sit there and shut up, so I can finish and get the heck out of there!"

I sympathize with you—I really do. But I also want to make your life as easy as possible and to increase your odds of being perceived as a pretty good presenter. One of the biggest dangers we have to worry about as speakers is that our audience gets bored, zones out, and then remembers us as awful speakers. This is a failure for us.

But if you engage your audience, they won't be bored; and engagement means two-way communication. You've probably had an interesting conversation with a friend, spouse, or family member that lasted all day; not necessarily because anyone said anything brilliant, but because there was a back-and-forth engagement that allowed you to talk—so it wasn't boring.

When people say they don't like to be "lectured to," they typically mean that they don't like one-way communication where one person does all of the talking, and they have to just sit there and take it. This is why everything you do in your presentation needs to not remind people of a lecture. You want to talk to, have a conversation with, and engage people.

Here are some simple tips to help you engage your audience:

  • Ask people questions when you are presenting.

  • Encourage people to ask you questions at any time—not just at the ...

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, interactive tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required