April 27, 2007

Let 'em talk!



Does it annoy you when the audience starts chatting to each other at certain points in your presentation? Does it disrupt the flow of your talk and make you flustered? Here's a way to reframe it as an opportunity rather than a bother.

When the audience gets excited enough during your talk to start murmuring to each other, you know you've got a hot topic. So make the most of it by creating an interactive exercise that makes use of that energy and your audience's desire to share their experiences. First of all, make note of places during your talk that stimulate conversation. Then prepare for next time. . .

Super easy: Break them up into small groups or pairs, and ask them to informally discuss the topic and then come back to the whole group and have one person from each group share what was discussed.

A little more involved: Break them up into groups and give the groups a "project" (have them list the top ten traffic problems in their neighborhoods; have them share the best methods for getting their children to eat vegetables; ask them to define "feminism" in one sentence). Give each group a handout to complete together or material that will help them with their project.

These are two simple ways to get your audience involved in your topic. Don't look at it as a disruption, but rather as a way to harness their enthusiasm and put it to work for you. They will be more engaged and more interested if they get to participate in the presentation rather than just listen to a lecture.

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