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10 WAYs engage audience to gain greater attention and retention

10 WAYs engage audience to gain greater attention and retention

As a presenter, you must strive to engage your audience and keep them focused on you to make your presentation memorable. Unfortunately, attention is a precious commodity today and often challenging to get. It is said that the attention of the general population is now 7 seconds. This is one second less than a gold fish. That means people are challenged with many possible distractions in the environment, emotionally and physically that take their mind away from the current task, discussion or presentation at hand.

How to engage audience for sustained impact

Here is the visual representation of the attention/retention curve and how and where people are most attentive in a presentation.

The chart shows that peoples ability to remember is higher at the beginning of the presentation and at the end of the presentation. Many of the details get lost in the middle.

This is because first, people are more likely to pay attention during the introduction because they are curious about what the presentation is about, and they are more likely to pay attention at the end, because they want to summarize what they have learned.People recognize change. You hear the murmur of the ventilation system when it goes ahead and when it goes off – however you don’t recognize it while it is running. You can utilize this normal human inclination to recover your crowd’s attention and engagement. 

The more you can create change in the presentation the more likely you are to maintain a higher level of attention. Here are many ways to engage audience to grab their attention and ensure they retain everything you share in your presentation.

1. Change the visual medium 

Switch from slides to a flipchart and back can refresh the visual context and refocus the attention of your audience. You can use slides to present concise and easy to understand information, while the flip-chart serves for the interactive sections of your workshop when you want to explain complex points.

2. Change physical condition of the crowd

You can alter the physical condition of the crowd to make them sit up and listen to you. For example, after they’ve sitted for the first part of the workshop, ask them to form a standing group around a flipchart for brainstorming. These physical movements can energize the crowd and maintain their interest.

3. Change the area of the room that you speak from

Moving around the room can also effectively maintain audience attention. By speaking from different areas – front, back, left, or right – you engage the audience dynamically and ensure that the interaction feels more personal.

4. Change the interaction 

Flip the scenario by prompting attendees to discuss an issue with their neighbors instead of tuning in to only you. This peer-to-peer interaction often helps in processing information in a more engaging way.

5. Change speaker by inviting audience feedback 

Involve your audience directly to enrich your presentation. Reach out and ask for feedback. Prompt them for questions or share their opinion. This interaction makes them feel valued and is a surefire way to engage audience.

6. Change themes/topics

Keep the presentation fresh by switching between themes and topics. Transitions should be smooth and meaningful to maintain the continuity and coherence of the message.

Your vocal variety can dramatically affect the audience’s engagement. Shifting tone, pitch, or pace can underscore important points, inject energy, or introduce a thoughtful pause.

7. Change from Speaking to Them to Asking Questions

Turn some of your statements into open-ended questions. This creates a dialogue, encouraging active listening and engagement, and can help to ensure that key points are being understood.

8. Change the Delivery Medium from a Fact to a Story

Storytelling is a powerful way to deliver facts and figures. If used properly, it can make your presentation more relatable and your messages more memorable.

9.Change Mood by Adding Music

Music can drastically alter the mood of your presentation. Choose music that is associated with your topic or music that evokes feelings relevant to what you’re discussing.

By creating change through out your presentation and adding interim summaries of what you want people to remember – you will raise their level of attention and as a result the retention of the content presented

All of this change can seem overwhelming looking at the list but you may already to many of these techniques. Look into adding some new techniques and when you see your audience energy is dipping change it up!

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