The Importance of Audience Participation in Public Speaking

Audience participation is KEY to nailing your presentation.

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Public Speaking

An effective public speaker should be able to utilize devices that will be able to capture the attention of the audience. One effective way of hooking your audience is to get them on stage. Make them participate. When someone is on stage and he or she happens to be a member of the audience, the rest will almost always stay attentive. Why? Because they would like to see what you will be doing to one of them. Also, because they are thinking they could be up there themselves and so to save their egos from embarrassment they at least need to know what is going on.

Train of Thought

No matter how good of an orator you are, nothing beats the excitement of getting someone to be on stage who really should not be there in the first place. What is going through their minds at that moment when you pull an unsuspecting someone from their complacency is, “Oh my god, what if the speaker selects me to go up there next? What am I going to do?” Then later, “I need to pay attention to this.” A little bit later as you go through your presentation, the audience will begin to think, “What point is he/she making?” And then as you get your point across, the audience will come to, “Now I get it.” Because you made them pay attention, you have forced them to listen and respond to your statement in the privacy of their minds.

Be Wary

However, there are those extremely shy and very sensitive members of the audience who might withdraw from going through the rest of your presentation if they hear you will be calling on them up on the stage. The objective is to gain an audience and not to lose any of them.

No One Was Harmed In The Making Of This Speech

Make it clear prior to your asking someone to come up on stage with you that you are asking for a volunteer and that no one will be forced if they do not want to. Notice that if the majority of your audience are shy, once you finally get someone to be on stage, the collective sigh of relief may indeed blow your hair back.

When in Doubt: Compliments

Another way to get the audience to participate as well as pay attention is by giving them due recognition. Try to acknowledge a single member of the audience for a specific achievement or a moment of a good performance, or at least acknowledge a group of the audience.