How to Engage Your Audience

Learn how to add interactivity to your presentations.

Lisa B. Marshall
4-minute read
Episode #91

How to Engage Your Audience

Today’s article is by request of reader who asked, “How do I make my presentations more interactive? How do I involve and engage the audience?”  

It’s interesting to me that this relatively new question is coming up more and more frequently. With the interactive social media gaining popularity and momentum, audiences, particularly younger and more technical audiences, are demanding more and more interactivity. No longer will they accept speakers talking AT them; they want to be part of the conversation.

So today I’ll talk about a few ways to add more interactivity to your presentations.

How to Make Presentations More Interactive

My first tip may seem really obvious, but it turns out it makes a big difference. If you want your audience to interact with you, you need to tell them that. I usually put up a slide that says, “Please, interrupt me! (Really!)” Then I usually say something about how much more interesting a presentation is when the audience actively participates and asks the questions they want to know. When I forget to say that, there is always less interaction.

I also recently added another beginning slide that has an image of a mobile device and it says, “Text or tweet your notes! Ask and answer questions, please!” I also include a Twitter ID and hashtag for the session. Next, I put up a slide that reminds the audience to tweet respectfully (see my last episode for more on presentweeting).

Set the Ground Rules for the Presentation

In addition to asking people to interact with you right off the bat, it’s also a good idea to set some ground rules, particularly if you’re encouraging people to tweet during your presentation. My rules are along the same lines as Jeff Hurt’s Conference Organizer, Presenter and Attendee (COPA) Agreement or The Four Freedom’s card created by Adrian Segar. The bottom line is that the rules for presentations are changing and at least for now, it’s important to be sure everyone is on the same page by explaining how you’d like for the audience to interact and engage. 


About the Author

Lisa B. Marshall

Lisa B. Marshall Lisa holds masters with duel degrees in interpersonal/intercultural communication and organizational communication. She’s the author of Smart Talk: The Public Speaker's Guide to Success in Every Situation, as well as Ace Your Interview, Powerful Presenter, and Expert Presenter. Her work has been featured in CBS Money Watch, Ragan.com, Woman's Day, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and many others. Her institutional clients include Johns Hopkins Medicine, Harvard University, NY Academy of Science, University of Pennsylvania, Genentech, and Roche.