Effective presentations are a two way street. You are delivering great content and they are responding through nonverbal and verbal clues that they are listening. Heads nodding, people whispering “yes”, or individuals responding to your questions are all signs they are in tune and tracking with you.

Are there things we can do as speakers to encourage response? Yes. Here are six ways to connect with the audience and elicit responses.

Play Music Ahead of Time

Pop in a motivational music CD and have it playing as people enter the room. Turn it up enough so people have to talk a little louder. This raises the energy in the room. Darren Lacroix taught me this and it is very effective. Seek to use music with no words.

Movies use music to significantly alter your mood. You can do the same to prepare people for your presentations.

Plant Questions

Getting the first question from the audience can be like pulling teeth. Help this process by giving out a couple questions to different people. Make them good questions that relate to your speech. Instruct these individuals to ask them within 10 seconds of the Q/A period staring, unless someone jumps in first. This will get ball rolling.

Start with a Personal Story

Start with a personal story that the audience can relate to. This helps connect you with the audience.

Give Out Free Gifts

“I have a question for you. There are several good answers, but one I am looking for. The person who gives that answer will get a free copy of my book.”

I recently tried this and it was like offering free lemonade on a hot day. Responses came flying in. The first person gave the answer I was looking for but I took 4 more answers, before I gave her the book.

Tell People Ahead of Time there will be Q&A

Let people know they will have a chance to ask questions and they will have time to think of them.

Don’t Wring Question out of the Crowd

After washing dishes my mom would wring out the dish rag. She would squeeze it to get every last drop of water out so that it could dry.

Sometimes as speakers we can do the same to our audience. We try to wring out questions from the crowd. Avoid long pauses and continually saying “Any Questions?”

“Surly you got questions.”

Not good.

By the way, never, never end with a Q/A session. Instead put the Q/A before the 5 minute conclusion. You want to control what people hear in the last five minutes.

Let’s wrap this up.

One weekend I was doing several workshops. With one group I used these techniques and the other group I did not. The difference was tremendous. Use a few of these public speaking or workshop tips and you’ll get more response from the audience.

Arlen Busenitz

Arlen Busenitz is an experienced speaker with over 650 presentations. He is Author of several books, CD's,and creator of Become a Better Speaker in One Evening™

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