It’s essential to understand that a presentation is a type of communication, which should be bilateral: a presenter should not only speak but listen to his audience as well.
The best indicator of a highly-engaged audience is their feedback, and it comes in many ways: questions, eye contact, signals of active listening, and more. When an audience feedbacks actively, it’s a signal that a presentation flows successfully.
A speaker should keep a close watch on the level of audience interest to stimulate it when needed. Taking into consideration the attention credit model, presenters can apply certain techniques for “activating” audience feedback and heightening their interest. Yet, it’s significant to not overplay: if a speaker observes people listening to his presentation carefully, applying techniques to catch the interest of his listeners would be the fifth wheel.
First of all, let’s define the attention credit model.
Attention credit model
The attention credit model explains audience behavior and helps presenters build effective communication.
It’s natural for people to aspire protection from infoglut. That is why an audience gives a small attention credit to a speaker (about 5-20 seconds of concentrated listening) when presentation starts. If a presenter sparks audience’s interest, they give him one more attention credit, and so on.
It turns out that presenters can lose an attention of their audience if not applying certain techniques to activate their feedback.
What are they?
Feedback Activation Techniques
Most of them take place at the stage of preparation, while others are used during the presentation itself. Thus and so, all feedback activation techniques are divided into passive and active ones.
Passive techniques take place during the preparation stage. When used right, these elements spur an audience to give the feedback. These techniques include:
- Rhetorical questions
- References to authorities
- Figures of speech
- Funny comments
Active techniques take place directly during the presentation. There are four types of them.
Vocal and speech techniques:
- pauses between words and phrases;
- voice tune.
- facial gestures;
- visual contact.
- booklets, handouts;
- flip charts.
- asking to raise a hand;
- asking to come to the stage;
- mini contest games.
All these tips will help to activate, maintain, and develop an audience’s engagement and reach presentation goals.
An audience analysis will help to choose the most appropriate feedback activation techniques.
Apply feedback activation diversely to help presentation look natural.
Do not abuse these techniques because it will lead to inverse effect.
The first 30 seconds work as a preview to presentations. People need seven seconds to decide whether they like the personality of a speaker, and they give him 30 seconds to sell on the idea that he’s worth listening. It’s difficult, sometimes impossible, to make them change their minds during a presentation.
To activate audience feedback, a speaker should do three things at the very beginning: make people concentrate, answer the question “Why should I listen to you?”, and explain what will be the result of his presentation.
Cliche jokes and phrases aren’t a good idea to activate feedback. To stand out of the herd, a speaker can:
- start with a story;
- ask an incentive question;
- use an unusual statement;
- refer to general experience;
- give a considerable promise;
- provide them with a plan.
Feedback activation matters. If people decide this presentation is worth their attention, they will not let a speaker go until the very last minute of his appearance.