Your audience probably thinks they know what to expect from your presentation before you even open your mouth to say a word. These preconceived expectations come from years of watching various presentations in school, at work, and at special events—noticing patterns along the way.
You can’t blame your audience for thinking they have your number before you even get the opportunity to begin speaking. But what you can do is subvert their expectations.
People probably think you’re going to deliver a relatively straightforward lecture using a combination of slides and your own words based on their past experiences.
So, why not mix it up? Catching your audience off guard is a great way to boost engagement.
Here are five fun activities to try with a presentation audience.
Ask the Audience
Most presentations consist primarily of a speaker telling the audience information. This type of one-way communication flow makes it all too tempting for people to disengage since their role is really just to sit and listen passively.
Asking for audience input is a welcome change to break up this uniformity. And nowadays, you can use an audience response system to survey an entire room simultaneously rather than having to ask for a show of hands.
There are a few ways to poll your audience. You can ask participants to take a guess at the correct answer before you cover a topic, encouraging people to make predictions and see if they’re correct.
You can also quiz people for retention after the fact, inserting quick multiple-choice questions into your slide deck. This method acts as a gauge so you can tell how much information people are retaining and which topics you need to touch on again.
Break into Teams
Watching your presentation can be an individual activity for audience members. Or, you can turn it into a collaborative session by breaking them up into teams. As The Balance Small Business suggests, “From there, you can implement activities like team projects, group discussions and problem-solving scenarios.”
Above all, small group work helps people make connections. It’s also a nice break from sitting silently and absorbing information. People use different mental muscles when they work in teams, allowing them to analyze topics form new angles.
Create a Live Word Cloud
Another way to boost collaboration between presentation-goers is embedding a live Poll Everywhere word cloud in PowerPoint. Ramp up crowd participation by asking everyone to pull out their mobile devices and respond to a prompt with a word, phrase or emoji.
The cloud grows and updates in real time, allowing everyone to compare their answer with fellow contributors.
Do a Live Demonstration
Want to bring to life what’s on the slide or in your speech notes? Consider doing a live demonstration of some sort.
Use real-time demos to illustrate concepts—something hands-on learners especially will appreciate. Just make sure you do so in a way which allows visibility for everyone watching.
Write Down Reflections
People are more likely to retain what they’ve learned if they have the opportunity to think critically about it. Set aside a few minutes and ask audience members to reflect on a prompt or a set of questions—jotting down thoughts as they occur.
These five fun activities to try with a presentation audience are meant to disrupt the classic lecture format, helping people learn in novel ways and get more from what they’re learning.
Sam Makad is a business consultant. He helps small & medium enterprises to grow their businesses and overall ROI. You can follow Sam on Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin.