How to engage your audience when you seem to be losing them

The kind of preparation needed prior to getting on to the stage is immense and often
back-breaking. Creating a script, drafting a presentation or planning an event needs
tireless efforts and this can come to nought if the audience does not appreciate it. A
disengaged audience is the last thing a presenter needs to see.
Ask any emcee or public speaker who has been compering in Mumbai, about the
difficulties faced in engaging an audience, and the answer would be a resounding
YES. Fortunately, there are a few effective measures that can help you to manage
the situation and turn the tide in your favour. Here’s how:
Strategy # 1
You are about 15 minutes into the presentation or the event and you see people
looking away or glued to their phones. This indicates that they are bored and are not
interested in what is being said on stage. Remember, you are now competing
against engaging technology. How about making your gestures more dramatic or
increasing your speech volume and providing them with vocal variety. You may even
consider getting off the dais and engaging with the audience in a direct manner.
Strategy #2
If you see a lot of fiddling and coughing going on in your audience, it implies that
they are distracted big time. Now is the time to become more interactive and ask the
crowd if anyone needed a break at that moment. If the answer is yes, break quickly
and ask them to join in a few minutes.
Strategy #3
When you realize that people are leaving or taking washroom breaks, you should
acknowledge that the audience is now ready for a break. This indicates that it is time
to pump in some energy into the proceedings. Give them a physical activity or simply
ask them to raise their hands if anyone has done or seen a specific thing. You
should also acknowledge the fact that they need a break and tell them a break is
coming their way soon. Stick to your word, finish whatever you were explaining and
declare the break.
Strategy #4
There will always be a time during a day-long presentation or training program when
you notice people in the audience dozing off. It means that they are either bored or
tired and cannot keep their eyes open anymore. Break the monotony by altering your
voice pitch. The content and delivery could be boring and this is putting them to
sleep, so work on making both interesting.
As a leading trainer and Emcee in India, Gaston Dsouza recommends taking quick
and dramatic corrective measures if the audience shows any of the above signs. In
the hands of a good speaker/emcee, the audience can quickly change their status
from “ Getting bored” to “Having fun”.

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