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Audience Engagement: 5 Ways to Get Your Audience to Say “I Do”

Susan Trivers

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Engagement between the speaker and audience during a presentation in any format—keynote, breakout session, workshop or seminar; or training—delivers a high sense of satisfaction to the audience.

What is engagement and why is it critical to the outcome for the audience?

1. Uniting the audience and the presenter – we are in this together Stop your hierarchical mindset: the presenter is in charge and the audience is subordinate.

  • Engagement helps bridge this gap so everyone feels they are on the same side, the side that is going to make a difference.

2. Creating a bond based on trust and likeability Well-planned audience participation that is fun, energizing and positive increases the feelings of trust and likeability between the presenter and the audience.
  • People naturally follow leaders they like and trust.

3. Bridging the physical gap between the audience and the presenter When the physical setting creates a large space between presenter and audience, well-designed participation opportunities reduce the feeling of distance.
  • If you can’t get close to the audience, you can help the audience members get close to each other to create a feeling of warmth and camaraderie.

4. Pulling the audience into the presentation content – it’s ‘our’ content Use audience engagement as a means of generating the feeling that the content is theirs, not just yours.
  • Pride of ownership leads to pride in execution.

5. Inviting the audience to create some of the content – they have expertise that counts Exercises that tap into existing knowledge in the audience help create content that is owned by the audience. This content is retained longer and leads to frequent and meaningful responses to your call-to-action.
  • You’re not asking them to do everything new—you are reminding them to do what they already know.

Your biggest challenge as a presenter is to believe that engagement activities will make a positive difference to the audience, and therefore to your success as a speaker. Break out of the mold set by typical business presenters. Any tool (such as slide software) you are using today is available to you because someone decided to break the mold of what came before. Take confident steps to engage the audience and enjoy the rewards of their eagerness to say “I do. "

Susan G. Trivers, MBA is a consummate presentation skills coach with hundreds of confident, creative clients who have learned how to engage their audiences. Start with Susan’s two fundamental principles: Put the Audience First and Be Yourself, Polished. Add effective leading (not supporting) materials to your key points, craft excellent stories, and add engagement activities and you’ll raise your career profile.
The Red-Hot Guide to COOL Speaking – Craft and Deliver presentations that are Creative, Original, Outsized & Liberated is Susan’s easy-to-use, apply-it-now e-book that answers all your questions about standing out when you’re standing up in front of an audience. Available at Questions are always cheerfully answered at


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