Include Your Audience When Presenting to Truly get Your Message Heard
I wrote previously about the Golden Rule of Speaking, which is to respect your audience. But to truly get your message heard, you also need to include your audience when presenting.
Why? Because when audiences are involved and feel you are speaking directly to them, they are more likely to pay attention to and remember your presentation. That, in turn, increases the likelihood of getting your message heard.
“Include your audience” is a broad phrase that can mean several things.
Here are 3 ways to make your audience feel included in your presentation:
- Ask questions or conduct polls.
- Take questions from your audience.
- Use language that includes your audience.
Include your audience by asking questions
Asking questions or polling your audience has two benefits: It keeps them engaged with your presentation, and it gives you information about them that you may not already know.
You can either begin your presentation with a question, or sprinkle questions throughout your presentation to gather your audience’s attention, interest, and thoughts on your subject. Some conferences and events now have polling features built into their apps, which is another way to ask your audience questions.
Both methods have pros and cons. If you use the polling feature, the results are often available to you after your presentation. But giving the audience permission to look at their devices can lead to them getting distracted from your presentation.
A show of hands lets you know how many people are paying attention at the moment. But it’s more challenging to save the results for later to work into future presentations.
Whichever method you choose, make sure all your questions are related to your topic and Message Map.
Always take questions after your presentation
I’ve coached many presenters who were hesitant to take audience questions. They worry someone will challenge them or ask an off-topic question.
But taking audience questions can be the best part of your presentation. Because that’s how you find out what they want to know that you didn’t cover if they agreed with your points and other things that will help you improve future presentations.
It also allows you to interact with your audience and make them feel included. It increases the chances that they will remember your key messages.
Nervous about including your audience by taking questions? You can find some helpful tips in this blog.
Use language that includes your audience
Many presenters are so focused on getting their stories heard that they forget to use language that includes their audience. Most people hear only what they want to hear, and using words that include them, such as “we” or “you,” can increase your chances of getting your story heard.
Here are a few examples of how to incorporate language that includes your audience into your presentation:
- If you’re opening an event or conference, instead of saying “We have a great program this year,” say “We listened to feedback from last year’s event, and we have a great program tailored for you.”
- If you’re speaking about a change or process improvement your organization made that is working well, make sure you point it out. That you made the change to benefit your audience by saying things like “to improve our customer support for you” or “these recent moves are paying off for you by reducing the time you wait to speak to support.”
- And if you are using “we” or “our,” remember those words alone may not be enough. As the audience might think you mean you and your organization. You can make sure they understand you mean you and your audience, by saying things like “our joint success” or “all of us in this room together.”
Presenting can be a great way to get your story heard. Improve your chances by including your audience in your presentation.
For assistance with presenting or other communications needs, email me at email@example.com.