We have all had those presentations where for whatever reason the audience didn’t show up feeling very engaged or energized. It does make your life a little tougher as a presenter, but you can over come it with a few simple tips. Try them out and let me know how they work for you. Here’s to getting your next audience pumped up—even if they aren’t when they show up.
Here are a few ideas to keep in mind when facing a lethargic audience:
- Are the room conditions ideal? A room that’s too hot will put an audience to sleep before you open your mouth.
- What time of day is it? Just after lunch beware of the food coma. Also around 4pm people’s energy starts to dissipate. Get them up and moving. Don’t just let them sit.
- Avoid too many distractions. If you load up a low-energy crowd with handouts, they’ll start sifting through the handouts and tune you out.
- Recruit volunteers. Get someone to help you with writing on the whiteboard. Get someone else to recruit people for an exercise. Give the audience members a stake in the program and they’ll feel more connected.
- Move your tone around. If you reflect an audience’s lack of energy with a lack of energy in your voice or a monotone delivery, you might as well call the coroners office because the room will feel like death—and you will wish you had died. The audience will take its cues from you. Don’t make the mistake of taking your energy cues from the audience if it’s a low-energy group.
- Ask questions.
- Do something outside the box and off-format. Use an ice-breaker exercise where the audience isn’t expecting it.
- Move to the back of the room—or a different part of the room—and catch your audience by surprise. Sometimes that will create just enough of a spark to wake people up.
- Remember that energy is contagious. You don’t have to ignite the entire room at once. Find a few faces that show a glimmer of life and start there. Energy spreads quickly.
- Hold a contest. It can be something as simple as pushups or jumping jacks, naming all the presidents, anything, just make sure you create a competition so half the room is rooting for one contestant and half is rooting for the other contestant. Once you get people rooting, the energy starts flowing.
- Play the soundbite game. Ask questions and tell the audience members they have to answer in the length of a TV soundbite: seven to 12 seconds long. If they answer too short or too long, give them a buzzer sound. If they hit the sweet spot, ring a bell or make a dinging sound. Keep score and crown a soundbite king or queen. It will energize even the most dull bunch.