A few months ago I asked a fellow speaker what he thought the Five Elements of a Perfect Speech were and one of his suggestions was that you shouldn’t speak to the audience but instead have a conversation with them.
Interaction with the audience is vital, there are too many presentations where the speaker talks at you or, even worse, they talk to their slides, their talk is one-way, it goes only from them to you.
For a presentation to work well it needs to be a two way interaction. This doesn’t mean that it should be an actual conversation but instead you should be engaging and interacting with the audience not only with open questions but also by making them think by asking rhetorical questions because when you get an audience thinking about a question, they’re involved, they want to know what your answer is, if it’s different to their answer and why.
Another way to engage an audience is to capture their imagination and you can do this in a couple of ways by getting them to imagine a scenario or by telling stories.
Using “picture the scene” to get the audience to imagine a particular scenario is very powerful because they become actors in the scene, they can picture themselves being part of the idea or solution that you’re proposing, they become invested in your idea, it’s a much more effective way of selling your idea than throwing facts and figures at them.
Telling stories is a great way to involve your audience because you’re involving their imagination and their emotions and anytime you can reach the audience’s emotions then you’ve got them hooked, they’re going to be involved, they’re going to listen…
Don’t talk at your audience, interact with them.