How to win back the attention of your audience
After thorough preparation for your presentation the worse
thing that can happen is that the audience just doesn't listen. The
non-verbal messages being relayed by your audience will give you a first
clue of who's listening and who isn't. Once you have identified the
inattentive group - how can you draw them back into your presentation?
Inspired by the Harvard Business School's guide to presentations,
'Presentations That Persuade and Motivate', here are a handful of hints
on how to win back the attention of your audience.
Hint no.1: Change what you are doing
A sudden change in action, whether it is your tone of voice or flipping
from PowerPoint to a video, will awaken the audience. Once the audience
has been awaken, however, you need to ensure that what follows is clever
or the audience will see through the reason for the change and simply
fade away again.
Hint no.2: Ask a question
When you see a particular member of your audience fade away, turn your
next thought into a question. Once someone is caught not listening they
will be sure to pay attention for the remainder of the presentation.
Rather than pointing out the day dreamers, however, it is better to give
them some forewarning that you are about to ask a question - this will
entire everyone to start listening more closely.
Hint no.3: Get the audience to act as a group
Asking for a show of hands, or dividing the room into two groups to
think about a certain issue, will one get people listening to be part of
the group, and secondly can lead to discussion which will arise those
wondering minds. Individuals, who are fading away, will not want to let
the rest of their group down by not paying attention.
Hint no.4: Remind the audience of your introduction
When you see people drifting away make a quick remark to remind the
audience of your initial introduction or main question. If the initial
question which you raised or topic is of interest bringing people's
minds back to the introduction where you explain the structure of the
presentation and explain why the audience should listen will make people
sit up and take notice once again.
Hint no.5: Improvise
Learning how to read body language of the audience will enable you to
try to win back the audience's attention before it has fully been lost.
When all else fails, however, be willing to be flexible in your
presentation and improvise in order to win back the audience. The
ability to read your audience and make changes on the fly will mark you
as a truly effective speaker.