No, you’re not at the wrong blog! You’re still at SOAP Presentations’ blog, where we normally discuss topics related to script writing, visual language, body language, etc. And we guarantee we will keep talking about these issues!
But anybody who’s ever taught a class, a lecture or a workshop knows that these days Facebook and WhatsApp are two major competitors of any presenter, among others like Twitter, personal e-mail, Candy Crush, etc. And there’s nothing worse for a presenter than to realize that the audience has lost its focus and that the person in the front row is Facebooking vacation pictures.
Yes, we know it’s hard to keep an audience’s mind from wandering and eager fingers from getting lost in all the digital distractions available today, but there are some techniques that can help you try to keep the attention of the audience during a presentation!
So here are our tips to keep the audience attentive:
1) Try to relate the main subject of the presentation to the day-to-day lives of the people to whom you’re talking. Do this by citing examples that somehow are connected with their daily lives and also take into consideration the age range. For example: when talking to an audience of teenagers, you can make an analogy to some popular video game, with the idea that this may help them understand the issue and make them want to listen. Or you can make a metaphor that uses a current event that’s generating debate on the social networks. Bottom-line, be relevant to your audience.
2) Use presentation videos to appeal to the emotions, be they funny or dramatic. Whenever something stirs the emotions, we tend to pay more attention. But beware of those long movies that just explain some topic the presenter could have explained! These just make an audience less attentive, so don’t be surprised if somebody starts to play with a tablet or to work on a file the boss wants yesterday.
3) Keep in the slides only what is directly associated with the main message of the presentation, only what helps to get that message across. Remember that the audience has no problem looking at a Smartphone when the presenter gets lost or strays from the main subject. And those famous slides – “I’ll go faster here” (because they’re not really important and so they really shouldn’t be here) – are great candidates for murdering the attention of an audience.
4) And, finally, the best tip we usually give all our clients: always lead the presentation; don’t let the presentation lead you. You’re the presenter, so you’re responsible and you’re the one the audience came to listen to. So it’s important that you know your story by heart and perfectly. It’s crucial that you know your subject front to back. It’s also very important that you know your slides well and that you know the main message for each of one and what the sequence is. Only then can you fully control the presentation with confidence. And the only way to achieve all this is by rehearsing. Rehearse the story, rehearse the presentation. When the public feels confident and secure in the abilities of a presenter, when a story is told with the right cadence, and when a presenter can interact naturally with an audience, that audience will be less likely to want to connect with friends on Facebook and disappear mentally from the presentation room.
Finally, though, if after applying all these techniques there’s still somebody in the room trying to make the highest score in some game or other, stay calm and remember that some people can actually pay attention to two things at once (women generally have this ability more than men), and so with any luck at all that gamester in the back row is well aware of every word you’re saying.