10 tips for purposeful, positive audience interaction

Get your crowd involved and engaged in your speech by asking questions, using a polling tool or asking people to break into smaller groups.

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When it comes to public speaking, audience participation isn’t necessarily a good thing.

Of course, participation can make your speech memorable and exciting, but the goal is to create interactions that get the audience closer to embracing your ideas. Participation for the sake of participation is a waste of time. Keep the crowd engaged and on their toes, and show them that you value their time and want to connect with them.

To that end, here are 10 positive ways to interact with audience members to foster positive engagement and participation:

1. Ask a series of “raise your hand if…” questions.

The questions you pose throughout your presentation should gradually increase in degree of difficulty.

Within the first 60 seconds of a presentation, I like to ask the audience a simple question about themselves—then get them to respond by raising their hands. Why do this so early? A recent study on attention span during lectures showed that the first lapses in listener attention tend to happen within the first minute of the talk. So, by asking a question like this right away, you spark an interaction and establish a small, immediate connection.

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