You've been delivering your presentation for the last 30 minutes. You're using PowerPoint for your notes and visuals. You look into the audience and notice that people are yawning, looking at their watches, and fidgeting in their seats. How do you rescue this presentation from the doldrums?
If your audience is snoozing in their seats, you need a tried and true way of waking them up! The vast majority of readers stated that involving the audience in your presentation is the only sure-fire way to keep them focused. As one respondent put it, "No audience participation = sleep."
If your presentation isn't specifically tailored to encourage audience participation, donít panic. Try one of the following suggestions:

"Change tracks! Stop the presentation, pull up a blank slide and ask the audience to brainstorm with you. Itíll make the presentation interactive and the audience will feel there's a point to being there!"

"Ask questions, move around the room. Skip over the boring Ďfillerí slides and get to the good stuff. Get the audience to brainstorm in anticipation of your next point."

"Step away from the presentation (figuratively and literally) and pose some direct questions to the audience to wake them up and get them more involved. Cracking a joke is useful but what happens if it falls flat? Ugh!"
The other strategy favored by respondents is to get participants up and moving. Never underestimate the rejuvenating effects of a short break and some fresh air. As two of our readers suggest:
"Ask everyone to stand up, stretch and shake their hands. In brain-based research it's called change of state. Itís very revitalizing! It is very normal behavior...give the poor audience a break!"

"Make participants change seats, have an impromptu coffee break or fast-forward to the interactive part of the presentation to get the audience moving and speaking."

So the bottom line is, if you find that your presentation is more of a sedative than a stimulant, get your audience involved. Ask questions, open the floor up to discussion, get them to brainstorm with you Ė anything that gets people thinking! Alternatively, schedule a quick break. Get the blood flowing with a quick stretch, walk around the room or a seat swap. And next time youíre planning a presentation, schedule a quick break every 50 minutes. Itíll work wonders for audience morale.

Read meeting dilemmas solved by the Meeting Guru.



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