5 Tips to Creating a Captivated Audience

Whether it’s during a meeting of five co-workers or a packed auditorium, getting your audience to pay attention can be extremely difficult. Even the pros need to continuously work on their presentation skills to keep their audiences’ interest piqued. How do you keep your audience engaged? These five flawless tricks can help you understand, speak to and captivate your audience.

Connect with your audience on an emotional level.

Speak to people’s hearts and their minds will follow. A powerful way to hook your audience is by connecting through emotions. Appealing to their sense of humor is a great way to do this. Being able to identify what makes them feel joy or compassion can help you leverage the concepts that stir their soul. Think about the theme of the event and what types of people are attending, then do some research into their specialties and the challenges they face.

Once you’ve got their attention, continue to use emotions to get them riled up. For instance, if you want the audience to feel connected to your leadership team, kick things off with a pop culture spoof or skit and let the audience see presenters with their hair down. Laughter isn’t just medicine, it’s a great tool to employ in meetings.

Play it, don’t say it.

Whatever the story you’re trying to convey, find ways to demonstrate it with more than just words. Imagine you’re representing a healthcare company that’s promoting a product for rheumatoid arthritis and you want to convey the patient experience in a relatable way. To show-not-tell, have everyone in the audience wear a brace that limits mobility for the entire first day of the conference. Putting them in the patient’s shoes is wildly more effective than a PowerPoint slide that says, “Limited Mobility.”

Creating an experience for your audience will keep their attention and push your message home.

Be relentlessly authentic.

Audiences generally know if speakers are not being genuine or truthful. One of the biggest mistakes speakers make is trying to be something they are not. The more personable and authentic a speaker is, the more attentive their audience will be.

Some of the best guest are the ones who are also the most vulnerable. Encourage presenters to be themselves—the audience will thank them (and, thank you!).

Be open to new ideas.

Repurpose something that worked at one meeting, is the fastest way to make a good idea stale. To stay ahead of the curve, be open to fresh ideas. You never know where, or from whom, the next great suggestion may come from. Case in point, my company once opened a meeting with an act that one of my employees just happened to catch on America’s Got Talent. It was a huge success! You never know where lightning is going to strike—or which cloud it might come from.

Be a fierce audience advocate.

Never (ever) start your meeting plan by making edits to the last year’s meeting agenda. This is a new audience, at a new point in time, with very new and specific needs. Every meeting needs to be a new experience—not a rehash of what happened last year. It’s a blank canvas and should be treated as such.

Start planning by asking yourself, “What does this audience need, right here, right now?” When you’ve answered that question, it’s time to start building your agenda. Throughout the planning process repeatedly ask yourself: How will this make the audience feel? Are we packing too much into this session? Will this resonate? Does this meet the objectives we set for this audience, today?

These five tips will help you cater to your crowd and create and meaningful and exciting event.

DJ Hanson is a managing partner and co-founder of BlueprintNYC, a powerhouse agency that specializes in audience engagement. BlueprintNYC helps their clients connect with their employees and customers by producing engaging and innovative experiences through live meetings and events, training, and employee communications.