I was prompted to write this post after a question from one of my students. She worked in a college and asked me if I had any tips for engaging demotivated or disinterested teenagers. My suggestions seemed to hit home with her, and she even mentioned how useful they had been on the end of course evaluation form, so I thought I should share my audience motivation tips you too
Tip 1 - Pace and Lead for Audience Motivation
Sorry for the cryptic headline but bear with me, and it will all make sense. The terms Pace and Lead are jargon used in the world of NLP or Neuro Linguistic Programming and relate to the way we establish and utilise rapport. Let me explain these terms in a little more details and show you how they apply to presenting.
In essence, pacing means tuning into the emotional and energetic state of your audience and reflecting it back to them. For example, If my audience were looking and sounding sceptical and demotivated, I would begin by toning down my energy while delivering my introduction, with the aim of mirroring my audience. Doing this communicates that you empathise with them and understand where they are coming from. This is a powerful way to establish a greater degree of rapport with your audience.
Often people, when faced with this type of challenging situation will do the opposite. They'll attempt to raise their energy level and be super-enthusiastic. In doing so, you areIfmismatching your listeners and damaging what little rapport you already have. To paraphrase Albert Einstein, if you always do what you have always done, you'll always get what you've always got. In other words, if what you are doing isn't working, SO SOMETHING DIFFERENT!
Of course, if you maintained the low level of energy throughout your presentation, your audience motivation level wouldn't get better. The truth is that you are doing the pacing to build rapport so that, when you start to raise your energy, your audience will automatically and unconsciously follow you. This is known as leading, but remember it only works if you have done the pacing first, to establish a degree of rapport.
Tip 2 - Answer their unasked question
Low audience motivation and disinterest is often because they can't immediately see the relevance of your topic to them personally. Their unasked question is "What's in it for me" or WIIFM for short.
Good presenters and teachers, understand this and take the time to clearly establish the relevance of the information they are sharing up front.
Never assume that your audience will grasp the benefits of your presentation. Spell them out clearly, and you'll have a much better chance of creating interest and audience motivation.
Tip 3 - Make it Interactive
Too many speakers think of their presentations as one-way streets, but nobody loves to be talked at continuously. There are many ways that you can involve your listeners, and boost audience motivation. If you want to learn more about Audience engagement, check out this great little article
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