For the seasoned public speaker, it can be difficult coming up with new ways to get people interested in what it is you have to say. You can be the most charismatic speaker in the world, but some topics are naturally dry and difficult to spin in a way that people will be able to connect with.
The ideal solution is to make your talk interactive, but how can you do that without picking on poor, unsuspecting members of your audience to contribute ideas and opinions?
The easiest way to get everyone involved is with an audience response system. When everyone enters the room, give them a handheld voting device, which is then received by a hub which converts the data into a graph to display on a screen. This is actually a really good way to get people interacting with you for several reasons.
Active Engagement over Passive Engagement
People are far more likely to take in information when they’ve actively engaged with it, rather than simply passively listening to you speaking. When they have something to actively respond to, they think more on the consequences of speaking up, becoming involved in the conversation and put more weight on its outcome. Therefore, actively engaging your audience is in your best interests, in order for you to be able to get your point across.
There are several approaches you can take to get people taking part in your talk. Firstly, you can use it to gain some sort of public opinion. If you’re heading up a campaign or are conducting a talk about an important issue, you can ask your audience to vote about how they feel about an issue. This can also be useful because it can give you some statistics to work with for the post-event material: ‘80% of the audience believed that…’ Asking for questions or suggestions on improvement at the end of a talk can also be a good way of engaging with your audience. This also provides you with useful feedback on how the audience responded to your talk or your lecture.
Make It Interesting, Make it Fun!
Another way they can be used is to inject a bit of fun into the talk. A gameshow-style quiz will allow audience members to use their remotes to answer questions set out by you so you can see how knowledgeable people are on a topic without having to embarrass anyone into vocally sharing their answer with the entire room. If people know they won’t have to speak up, they’re more likely to give their opinion, so you get a better idea of how well the audience grasp your topic.
One of the greatest things about audience response systems is that most voting is done anonymously, so you can do this to collect unbiased data on food samples or reactions to certain clips played at your conference or talk, in order to see how people respond. If you have no way of telling what ‘type’ of people responded to your talk, you are less likely to make silly marketing decisions (remember the ‘Bic for her’ fiasco at all?) based on your intended ‘audience’. Of course, having some sort of knowledge of your target audience is good information too, you just have to use that information wisely.
Always Get Your Data
At the end of the talk, you could use the response systems to find out how much information the audience absorbed with a quick fire round of questions to make sure everyone is taking away the key points of your talk. This means that everyone comes away with the information you wanted them to have, and they feel involved without having to dread being chosen to speak in front of everyone. And usefully for you, you can see whether your public speaking technique is effective enough to get through to your audience so you can improve your future talks.
Audience response systems are a great way of getting immediate, anonymous data from a group of people who might otherwise be pretty unresponsive to any questionnaires or surveys. When a question is multiple choice, it becomes a lot easier to answer than if you had to think of the answer. Think of all the online surveys you had to partake in. Have you ever had an open ended question that you simply didn’t answer? Conferences work in the same way. By providing multiple choice questions, you ensure that at least every question is answered in some way by your audience.
It might also be good to see if you can also include a few questions at the end about the choice of delivery, to see whether or not your audience actually appreciated the use of the audience response system. Not everybody agrees with audience response systems as a means of obtaining data, so listening to what your clientele wants to see more of is important, particularly in the retail industry. Still, audience response systems are a great way of finding out what the general public want, and this in turn has its merits when increasing your own marketing reach.
Article provided by Mike James, an independent content writer in the technology sector – working together with a selection of companies including audience response technology specialists Clikapad, who were consulted over the information contained in this piece.