September 6, 2011

Make your audience feel like rock stars

Have you ever gone to a concert or watched one on TV? Specifically a rock or other popular music concert?

Have you noticed that, at many or most concerts (I don't have a scientific number, but let's just say many), the band holds the microphone out to the audience at some point for them to sing? The audience members are already singing, of course. It's one place where you can sing at the top of your lungs, and still no one hears you!

But when the singer points that microphone at the audience, the volume turns up a notch, and even if half of those 1,000 audience members are singing off-key, you'd never know it. It's a gift the singer gives the audience, and everyone participates. Why?

Audience members wants to be part of the experience.

Audience members want to bond with the performer.

Audience members want to bond with each other.

As a speaker, you have plenty of opportunities, should you choose to use them, to give the audience their moment. It's a simple thing but yields big results. You're not a rock star, and you're not going to invite the audience to sing (or maybe you are), so how do you incorporate the audience into the experience?

1. Ask questions that let audience members share their own experiences as they relate to your topic.

2. Have audience members converse with each other in pairs or small groups to discuss issues and get to know each other.

3. Provide activities and exercises that allow the audience to apply their knowledge to a problem and solve it.

4. Offer unstructured time during breaks or lunch where your participants can chat freely without having to do any "work."

Everyone has a lifetime of knowledge and experience that can enrich your presentation. Audience members want to share, they want to be heard, they want to participate, and they want to learn from each other as well as from the speaker.

Are you going to waste that awesome opportunity to make your presentation that much more interesting and engaging by pretending you're the only one who has something of value to say?

Invite your audience to "sing." Bring them into the experience. Make them feel like rock stars.

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