Originally presented at the NSA Ohio Communication Mastery Event on October 20, 2023
It isn’t enough to only have great information in your communications. You need to also have the skills to engage your entire audience, even those in the back of the room who “have to be here.” Here are ways that I have found help to engage every person in the room.
Initiating the session with a lively icebreaker is key to setting the tone for active audience engagement. It creates a welcoming atmosphere, encouraging participants to participate, collaborate, and connect with each other, aligning perfectly with the intention to help participants become engaged during the session.
Personalize Your Approach
If you’re familiar with the audience you’re communicating with, you’ll likely have an idea of how they might respond to the information you’re about to give them. If you don’t know the group, ask the client to describe the participants in the room so you can personalize your message. Knowing their learning styles and preferences can help you to enhance engagement.
Invite a dialogue throughout your session too. Allow your audience to dive into the subject matter through interactive exercises instead of just being passive recipients of information. Experiential learning breaks the mold of traditional instruction, enabling the audience to shift their perspectives through personal insight rather than a prescribed narrative, providing them with an immersive experience cultivates a path for self-driven realization and change.
As you design or facilitate these exercises, tailor the takeaways to resonate with the challenges your audience is currently navigating. This approach not only fosters engagement but also imparts insights that are immediately applicable to their real-world scenarios.
Recognize that your agenda may change, and that is often a good thing. Having optional exercises & “just in case” exercises for every workshop in case the workshop goes too long/short will be a lifesaver.
The knack for pivoting during the presentation to address spontaneous questions or interests that bubble up is invaluable. This nimble approach ensures that participants leave the session armed with practical insights to tackle their distinct challenges.
Pay Attention To Your Audience
Throughout your presentation, pay close attention to audience cues and feedback. Think of it as an engaging conversation with them and adjust your pace to match their reactions. Some groups may want to delve deeper into the details, while others might be eager to jump into the next interactive segment. This back-and-forth keeps the audience engaged and maximizes their learning experience.
By implementing these strategies into your facilitation approach, you can effectively engage every individual in the room.