10 Tips to Do Presentations Like Me: Interact with the audience

Tip #9: Interact with the audience!

OK. You’re in the middle of a presentation. Look up for a sec – what do you see? People! They came to hear you talk. Why not let them do some of the talking, too?

Make sure to interact with your audience. Why? Well – first, a selfish reason: it makes the presentations much more fun for the speaker. Lively audiences with lots of questions or comments just makes the presentation that much more interesting for everyone (assuming those comments relate to the topic).

Interaction also makes you, the presenter, seem friendlier and more approachable, too. Sometimes, I’d guess it even helps the audience develop bond, even just a little bit (you know, that “oh, they have the same questions I do” type of thing).

How do you get interaction during a presentation? Some ideas:

  • Ask for it. Ask a question … then be quiet. Someone is bound to answer. If they mumble the answer, it’s your job to ask them to speak up.
  • Include some “what do you think” questions in your presentations.
  • Tell people up front to ask questions as they come up (then actually stop presenting and answer the question)
  • Do a Q&A at the end of your talk. If it’s a long talk, pepper Q&A times in with the talk.
  • For longer talks, break up the audience into teams and have them do some 5-10 minute project, then report back to the larger group.

And there are probably others. What works for you? How do you encourage your audience to interact with you?