What’s the antidote to a distracted audience in a virtual presentation? It’s actually audience engagement.
Stay tuned for 7 tips to master virtual audience engagement!
7 TIPS FOR VIRTUAL AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT
Hey everyone, I’m Fia Fasbinder, welcome to the Moxie Talk blog where we help you find your voice, share your message, and lead with confidence.
Today, we’re talking about mastering virtual audience engagement. Something I hear all the time from my clients is: “I feel like my audience isn’t engaged or I don’t know if they’re engaged because I’m presenting and I can’t see them—people seem to be turning their video cameras off and I have a feeling they’re leaving; I’m not capturing their attention.” This is a real concern.
It was hard enough to engage an audience in person when people were trapped in the room during our presentation, but now when people can leave, go in and out, go make a sandwich, go get the mail, it’s even more important to make sure that we are keeping them engaged.
It’s really our responsibility as speakers and I call this the law of reciprocity. Meaning if you want your audience to give you something, give you their attention and their engagement, you have to give them something first.
It’s important that you understand this really important law with virtual audience engagement which means that you as a speaker are going to give them something first in order for them to give their attention to you.
TIP 1: INCLUDE AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT EVERY 4 MINUTES
Tip number 1 is to consider the pace of your audience engagement. Now in person, you needed to engage your audience every 10 minutes. With virtual presentations, we need to engage our audience every 4 minutes.
Where did I come up with this number?
There is a man named John Medina who wrote a book called Brain Rules and in this book, he did studies on audience engagement. He hooked audiences up to electrocardiograms. He had a lecturer lecture at these people and he measured their heart rate. What he realized is that for every 10 minutes of the lecture, heart rates took a nosedive.
So this led Medina to think that every 10 minutes of your presentation you have to do something to change it up so it’s not just you talking. He went on further to say that in virtual presentations, it needs to be every 4 minutes. So it’s important that you build this into your presentations. Think about what you can be doing every 4 minutes—and I know that seems like a lot to keep your audience engaged.
So what are some of those things you can be doing?
TIP 2: INCORPORATE STORYTELLING
The first is stories. You’ve heard me talk a lot in this blog about stories. It’s one really easy and authentic way to engage your audience.
Tell stories or get your audience to tell you stories. Give them a prompt. Start a story about something that happened to you and then have them discuss it. Or they could tell their own stories. Stories are a great way to keep audiences engaged.
TIP 3: ASK QUESTIONS
Another way to keep them engaged is questions. So this is tip number 3 — ask questions. With virtual presentations, this is really easy because we have a chatbox.
Type out answers
You can chat a question and then have them answer you in the chatbox too, or you can ask real questions and have your audience with a show of hands say yes or no. ‘Raise your hand if you think this.‘ Or you can ask them to unmute themselves and actually answer your questions.
Ask someone to speak
There are 3 different types of questions you can ask: (1) questions where they’ll type the answer into the chatbox, (2) questions where just show of hands will get the answer, and (3) questions where you expect a real answer and you ask them to unmute themselves.
Make them part of the presentation!
That’s a really great way to keep audiences engaged. They love to be part of the presentation and part of the conversation.
TIP 4: USE POLLS AND QUIZZES
Polls and quizzes—now this is so much easier with virtual presentations because we have built-in polling functions into our Zoom or our Microsoft Teams meetings. Use polls and quizzes to really get your hand on the pulse of how your audience is feeling about your presentation.
Create polls/quizzes ahead of time
You can pre-build these quizzes and these polls and then you can use them at certain times when you want in your presentation. Meaning you’re not building the poll in the middle of your presentation. You can create it ahead of time, and then when you want to use it in that presentation you can go ahead and launch the poll or launch the quiz. This is a great way to keep your audience engaged.
TIP 5: GAMIFY INFORMATION
Now, speaking of quizzes, gamifying information is a great way to keep audiences engaged. None of us liked pop quizzes in school but we love it when they’re fun pop quizzes that we can use in a presentation. So gamify it.
Split your audience in half and have a competition for who can rattle off the top 3 things you talked about first. Gamify it in a way where maybe you give prizes. Send a Starbucks card to the first person that answers your question right. So if you can, think of a way to gamify it instead of just giving them the information. Make it fun, make it a little friendly competition—a great way to create audience engagement.
TIP 6: PROVIDE EXERCISES AND ACTIVITIES
Tip number 6 is exercises. People love to do exercises and this also gets them moving. Of course, for a virtual presentation, most of our audience is just sitting. So if you can give them an exercise to do—and I don’t necessarily mean a physical exercise—but some kind of exercise or activity around something that you’re doing or saying in your presentation, and this activity gets them:
- up from their seat
this is a great way to engage them.
Use breakout rooms
You can also use breakout rooms when you’re doing exercises or activities so that people don’t have to do them alone. You can put them in groups and with partners and have them do these exercises or activities together and then come back to the presentation at a certain time—a great way to build an engagement.
TIP 7: USE VISUAL AIDS
Tip number 7 is visual aids. You can break up the monotony of talking at an audience for a long time by using visual aids, whether it’s a really poppy slide, an image with a funny quote, or even a short video in the middle of a presentation to shake it up. And if it’s not a visual aid, some kind of music also adds to audience engagement.
I love to set the mood in my virtual presentations by having music play before the presentation even starts. This helps set the upbeat, happy mood if that’s what you want. If you’re going for more focus, you might want more classical music or jazz music or something a little bit more mellow. But using visual aids, music, videos—they’re all a great way to cut up the monotony of just having you speak for endless hours at an audience.
There you go. 7 tips to master virtual audience engagement that you can start using right away in your presentations. If you liked this blog, make sure to share it, like it, pass it on to your friends, and most importantly subscribe to our Youtube channel.
Thanks for reading and we’ll see you on the next blog.