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I got engaged in public with no ring! Here's what I learned (Confident conversations 3/3)

First of all, I'm sorry for the title, I can never resist a dad joke, but if you were expecting an article about my love life, I don't think we've had the same experience on Linkedin. This article isn't about romantic engagement, it's even better. I'm going to reveal the secrets of audience engagement that can help you get people who can hear you- actually listen to what you're saying.

Have you ever been in a conversation with someone who just goes on and on and on and on and on and on and on? It’s the worst, right? When I’m in conversations with people, I try to only talk for 30% of the conversation, but it’s difficult when you’re public speaking because you are there to talk at people. Engagement is a way for people to feel like they are heard when you’re not able to listen. It took a long time for me to realise the impact of engaging an audience during a presentation, but if you pay attention you’ll notice engagement in almost all presentations you actually enjoy.

You might be wondering how you implement engagement into your presentations. It’s a good question, and you’d be happy to know it’s easier than you think. You could ask rhetorical questions and pause, you could ask people to raise their hands if they agree with a statement or you could ask people to close their eyes and imagine something. One of the most effective ways I use engagement is I include multiple choice quiz slides on my presentations and call on audience members who have raised their hands.

This works every time for me in engaging my audiences, and it works because delaying answers piques human curiosity, getting the question right (for those that do) releases serotonin and creates a positive association with your presentation. It also establishes your sense of authority as someone who is knowledgeable in your field if it is a fact that’s hard to find. By engaging audiences, your information has more impact and you and your audience will get more out of the valuable information you have to share.

Of course, you might be thinking, what about virtual presentations? I’ve done a few of these, but I haven’t done one to a larger audience since I learned about engagement. Luckily for us I’ve prepared a free back up answer for you, thanks to the advice of Jenna Davies and the Wildflowers of London event I spoke about earlier. Jenna’s advice for overcoming virtual engagement challenges included using chats, using ‘reaction’ functions, asking questions and taking pause the same way you would in a physical presentation. Just because the presentation isn’t in person, it doesn’t mean it has to be boring. Engaging the audience means that they’ll be spending less time checking their email on the side and more time learning about the valuable insights you came to deliver.

If you have a client call or public speaking event this week, I challenge you to incorporate an element of engagement into the point you’re trying to get across. If you decide to take on this challenge, let me know now in the comments by telling me your favourite pizza (the written commitment will make it so you’re more likely to do it psychologically!) and if you liked these tips make sure to follow me on LinkedIn to be notified about new blog posts.


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