I love speakers who hit the stage and have the effective presentation skills to engage and audience immediately, bringing them into a learning and growth experience throughout the time together.

On the flip side, I cringe when speakers inadvertently start erecting a wall between themselves and the audience either through arrogance, indifference, insufficient preparation, a lack of presentation skills, or some other reason.

Effective Presentation Skills – 16 Ideas to Immediately Engage an Audience


Sitting through a painful presentation where a speaker decided about ninety percent of the way through the presentation to try to engage the audience (and failed), I jotted down this list of sixteen ideas you can do to immediately engage an audience:

  1. Work with meeting planners beforehand to ensure audience members don't feel cramped or are sitting on top of each other
  2. Have audience members mingle with each other even before starting what you're going to do
  3. Get off the stage (for at least a few moments) and walk among the audience
  4. Be self-deprecating
  5. Do funny stuff early and let the audience know it's okay to laugh
  6. See if audience members are doing (or have done) the thing you are talking about and let an audience member explain it to the group
  7. Ask audience members to share safe, non-self-incriminating opinions
  8. Use questions with the group that have multiple right answers
  9. Prompt physical demonstrations of being awake - applause, standing up and moving, raising their hands, etc.
  10. Have everyone do the same thing as a group activity
  11. Talk to a few audience members ahead of time and identify which ones would be willing to get things started
  12. Have audience members perform a safe ice breaker that doesn't make them feel silly
  13. Invite audience members to do something they know how to do in a slightly different way
  14. Have audience members create something that is easy to create
  15. Fall down in excitement or exasperation
  16. Share positive things you've learned about their organizations and ask them to tell the audience about why they are having success

Those are sixteen ideas I’ve seen work.

What have you seen work for speakers to immediately engage an audience that we should add to the list? – Mike Brown


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