Keeping your audience engaged is always tricky, but this can be even more challenging during an online meeting.
As a dedicated provider of virtual meetings, The Corpus has picked up a few tips over the years on how to make them a resounding success.
Start as you mean to go on
Some experts say that you should be engaging your audience in the first 30 seconds, but you can perhaps be a little more liberal with this advice. You should, however, aim to engage the audience in your opening gambit and one of the best ways to do this is to get them to interact with you.
Ask them a question which requires a show of hands or a nod of the head and react to their involvement. This will show them that their actions have been acknowledged and, in turn, will result in them paying closer attention to what follows.
Define a problem you are going to address
Give your audience a taste of what’s to come. The best presentations I’ve been at have posed a question at the start which the speaker will aim to tackle throughout the meeting. This works best if the problem is one that the audience can relate to, with a promise of exploring the answer throughout the presentation.
The speaker can then take them on a journey through trials and data analyses, all of which can be related back to the initial problem. On conclusion, outline what you have learnt along the way even if you aren’t able to answer the initial problem.
Use slides as a prompt rather than a crutch
>Less is more. Slides should be clear and concise, and should serve to enhance the story you’re telling rather than lead it. Slides heavy with text will have the audience struggling to read through the information which takes their concentration away from what you are saying.
If there is a lot of data to display, perhaps think about giving them additional reading materials following the meeting — this can be done via a link in online meetings or printed handouts in face-to-face meetings.
Keep them on their toes
To make sure the audience remain focused on the presentation, include some mid-meeting polls. This is an excellent tool in online meetings as you can ask a simple multiple-choice question which will appear on their screens and the results can be displayed in real-time. If the audience can see instant outcomes from their participation, they are more likely to stay focused on what you are saying.
Start a conversation
Webcasts and one-way meetings can be boring, we’ve all sat through enough of them to know that. However, there is technology out there (including, of course, The Corpus platform) that allows for multi-way communication. Dedicate a portion of your allotted meeting time to interactive discussion, come up with questions for the audience, and allow the audience to ask you questions.
This works incredibly well when the audience are all on webcam as it gives them the sense of being at a roundtable meeting where discussion is encouraged, if not expected. If someone feels like part of the conversation, you’ve succeeded. You’ve got them engaged!
Whilst writing this post I realised that The Corpus have loads of top tips, from engaging an audience to structuring your presentations to choosing the best applications. I’ll share more top tips over the coming months, so make sure you stay tuned!