We all know how much of a challenge it can be to retain people’s attention even when you’re presenting in a real-life meeting or classroom. This is even more true in a virtual environment. You can hear the pens being tapped, the deafening silence at key points in your presentation or, conversely, the distraction of the discussion getting out of hand. You have designed your presentation to capture the attention of your audience, so don’t let your delivery method detract from this.
We like to think it’s a given that you’ll talk about topics you know well and deliver engaging content. But another way to boost engagement is to ask your audience questions. Create ‘landmarks’ within your presentation or meeting, where you can conclude one section and then ask attendees questions about what you’ve covered so far. This will encourage your attendees to interact with you. Polling is a widely used feature and works well to increase engagement. But you can also ask your attendees directly about their thoughts on the topic.
Another thing you can do is create actions for your attendees to complete, either before or after the meeting. Or both. Actions might take the form of a poll, as mentioned above, or an open or private question session. The idea is to keep attendees engaged with your topic, so make sure that any actions you choose are both meaningful and directly relevant.
You have spent time creating an engaging presentation on your chosen topic and have driven a large number of attendees to join you in your meeting. But all of that could be in vain if you don’t provide your audience with targeted insightful and useful information that they can take away. This brings us back to the importance of setting the right meeting title and agenda for your presentation. You need to make sure you deliver what attendees have signed up for regardless of how dry the topic may seem at first glance.
Stay on track
It is so easy to go off topic and go into too much detail on a subject you are passionate and knowledgeable about. But that is the last thing your meeting attendees want. Keep everything concise. We’re not saying you should just skim the surface of the topic, that’s not useful either, but do be wary of drowning your listeners in detail. Try to gauge your attendees reactions to your content and, if you feel they’re slipping away, know when to stop or adapt your delivery to draw them back in.
Do a time check
Timezones always seem to be the hidden hurdle with web conferences and webinars. We often forget the true extent of the time difference. We tend to assume that everyone is working on a similar clock to us. We know how hard it is to keep all attendees focused and engaged and time is a key part of this. Your attendees are highly unlikely to be as focused at 6am as they are at 11am. So it’s important to consider attendees’ timezones and select an appropriate time, to suit as many people as possible. Failing to do this may mean that many attendees simply don’t attend or pay little attention if it is being hosted at an unsociable hour for them.
There are a variety of things you could be doing. These core aspects we have outlined here provide you with a strong starting point. Remember, the more engagement you have within the meeting the larger the benefits. The addition of some preparation time to your meetings places you in a good stead. Time taken prior to the meeting will deliver benefit fours times of that. Go ahead and tweet out loud your preferred preparation methods.