CHAMPION STRATEGIES – PUBLIC SPEAKING WORKSHOP – AUGUST 28, 2021
Add Audience Participation
Audience participation is a fantastic way to break up the presentation and add energy and attentiveness to a presentation. The adage is that “People will support a world that they help create.” When your audience helps deliver your presentation, they will enjoy the presentation more and retain the information longer.
Avoid Rhetorical Questions
Never ask the audience a question that you don’t expect them to answer. Rhetorical questions aren’t interactive and have the potential to be annoying or even manipulative, so really avoid these types of questions.
Be Careful with Yes/No Questions
Questions where some people will answer “Yes” and some will answer “No” will divide the audience, so only use them if a division is what you want. For instance, “How many of you have been sexually harassed at some time in your career?” will likely cause a harmful division that you’d rather avoid, but “How many of you made President’s Club this year?” might give you a positive result. Just be careful, dividing your audience.
Avoid Single Answer Questions
Questions with only a single correct answer have only two possible results. Either one single person will answer the question correctly for one single success, or no one will answer the question, and the entire audience will feel stupid. If there is only one answer, avoid the question and tell the audience the answer.
Ask Open-Ended, Opinion Based Questions
The best types of questions are open-ended and “opinion-based” meaning that anyone with an opinion can, and most likely will, be correct. So a whole group of audience members is now the heroes of the room. The best way to do this is to make sure that your bullet points have gone to that “next level” where the result to the audience is added and ask it instead of telling it. “So we are two weeks behind schedule on the Smith building. What kind of things can we do to get back on track by the end of the month?”
If your audience more introverted or less likely to interact, use Think/Write/Share. “Think about all of the possible ways that we can get back on track on the Smith project…” “If you would, write down two or three of your best ideas.” Then wait for everyone to write down at least one thing. “Tell me what you wrote down, and I’ll write them on the whiteboard.” You’ll get a lot more participation this way.
Use Sticky Notes to Get Input
If you have one or two overly vocal audience members who tend to overpower all other opinions, then try having everyone write their ideas on individual Sticky Notes instead. Collect all of the notes and read them out to the group and organize them into piles of similar ideas. That way, you can see where the real consensus is in the group without it becoming a popularity contest.
Practice with a Partner
Another way to get a group to participate is to ask them to tell their best idea to a partner sitting next to them. Then have the partners volunteer to say to the group a single idea that their partner shared that was particularly good.
Have a Contest
Divide the audience into small groups and have a contest of some kind. This could be a test to see what they remember from the speeches from previous presenters, or it could be a contest to see who can come up with the most creative solution to a challenge or problem that you are experiencing. Get creative because people learn more when they are having fun.