3 Ways To Engage ALL Audiences (and ALL Learners)

Actively engaging an entire audience (i.e. a large group of learners) during an an-person presentation is not as difficult as you might think. All that matters is your commitment to do three simple things.

Contrary to what some presenters and trainers say, in-person audience/learner engagement is NOT dependent upon group size, the room environment (theater-style seating versus table groups), or the topic you’re talking about. Keeping an entire audience or a large group of learners interested and engaged really comes down to YOU doing the following:

1.  You have to STOP talking so that audience members or learners have time to DO something: talk, read, write, draw, move.

2.  You have to give your audience SPECIFIC instructions so they know EXACTLY what to do and how long they have to do it.

3.  You have to CHOOSE activities that are both relevant and topic-related; no fun-but-irrelevant activities allowed!

Below are three quick ways to engage audiences/learners in both theater-style and table-group seating:

LEARNING BUDDIES: Before beginning to speak about the topic, direct your audience to form a seated group (if in theater-style seating) with folks in front and behind them, or seated near them. If they are already seated in table groups, skip this step.

Then instruct them to quickly introduce themselves to their “learning buddies” and to tell them one or two facts they already know about the topic. Give your audience 2-3 minutes to do this.

Return to this activity – having the audience members chat with their “learning buddies” about what they’ve learned – at least one or two more times during your presentation.

FOLLOW THE LEADER: After you’ve talked for about 20 minutes, stop your presentation and invite audience members to stand and do a quick stretch with you (you lead, they follow). Explain to them that this is an “oxygen break” – stretching gets more oxygen flowing to their brain. Then direct them to form small standing groups of 2-3 people with the folks nearest them. If in theater-style seating, they can do this with people in front, behind, and to the side.

Tell them to each take a turn leading a stretch while telling their standing group the most important thing they’ve learned so far. The others in their standing group are to “follow the leader” and mirror the stretch. When done, they thank their group and sit down. Give your audience about 3-4 minutes to do this.

WRITE IT DOWN: Before your presentation, hand out blank index cards (or small note-taking cards with fill-in-the-blanks that you’ve created ahead of time). When you’re talking about an important concept, say, “This is profound so write it down.” Then STOP talking and give your audience time to write down the major point you’ve just made.

Or give them the words they need to use to complete the fill-in-the-blanks card. On the back of the card, they can later write their “action plan” (how they plan to use what they’ve learned).

For 6 more ways to engage ALL audiences, click on the red button below:

(Content from: Training from the BACK of the Room! and The Ten-Minute Trainer by Sharon Bowman.)