Why ask questions to the audience during a presentation, or the simplest way to “engage” the audience

The attention of the vast majority of visitors to any event is, by default, scattered. A good example is the beginning of a movie in a movie theater. It is easy to notice that the audience needs time to stop rustling, change places, look at smartphone screens, etc.

Obviously, without “engaging” the audience, or, in other words, “involving the audience,” the presenter will not be able to achieve any of the goals set before him. At the same time, the task of the organizers and speakers of an online event is much more difficult than in the case of a “live” meeting. Simply because there are more distracting factors for a viewer sitting in front of a computer screen. Not to mention that he is not caught up in the general emotion of the audience.

Think if you want to live

Asking questions to the audience is the easiest and most effective way to “engage” their attention and focus it on the topic of your conversation. This is how we are arranged – a problem (and any question is a problem that needs to be solved) makes us concentrate. This property of our psyche has been developed through natural selection. Those who could not concentrate on solving the problem – let’s say, quickly come up with the correct answer to the question: “How to escape from an approaching predator?” – were simply eaten.

By the way, thanks to this feature, information obtained from questions and answers is better assimilated. Precisely because long ago we received critically important information in this form for survival.

Are you sure that “everyone knows this”?

Let’s try to understand how questions and answers work with a simple example. Suppose during the presentation, you need to remind those who forgot and inform those who did not know that Rob Janoff is the author of the “Apple” logo. The easiest way to present this is as a fact. That is, just say something like: “In 1977, designer Rob Janoff developed one of the most recognizable logos in the world for Apple Computer – a bitten apple.” What will happen in this case? Almost certainly, most of your viewers with a touch of arrogance will say, “Nothing new, everyone knows this.” This is how the psyche of an adult works, any information seems familiar to him. We get rid of the child’s ability to admit our ignorance somewhere in adolescence. From this moment on, we try to seem almost omniscient because it is considered a sign of adulthood. And our subconscious mind is happy to help us, more and more often saying on occasion and without: “You know this, you are an adult.” But here’s the problem – if you “already know this,” then why bother concentrating and memorizing?

And now let’s rephrase the information into a question. For example: “Remind us, what work of designer Rob Janoff, created by him in 1977, is the most famous and distributed in millions of copies?”

We assure you that your viewers will be surprised. It turns out that simply receiving information and searching for an answer in your head is not the same thing at all. You will have to use your brain. It will quickly become clear that someone has never heard the story of the famous bitten apple, and those who have read or heard it are not as confident in their knowledge as they think. Upon hearing the answer, the first ones will say something like: “Wow, that’s interesting!” and the second ones: “Phew, I thought so!” In any case, you have achieved your goal – your audience has “turned on”, focused their attention, and almost certainly switched to the mode of “recording important information”.

Interesting story and the right to authority

What should you do if someone in the audience outperforms the presenter and gives the correct answer? Good question. The secret of presenting information in the form of a question is that the speaker must know more than the audience. He should have an interesting story ready.

Suppose it wasn’t you who said, “Janoff created the bitten apple at Steve Jobs’ request,” but someone from the audience. Nothing terrible. Thank the expert and tell a story with interesting facts. Approximately like this: “Thank you. Yes, this is indeed the famous Apple logo. Interestingly, Janoff did not come up with the idea of an apple as a logo himself. Before his creation, the Apple logo was Newton under the apple trees, and Jobs wanted the general idea of the old logo to be preserved. There are several legends about why the apple is bitten. Some believe that this is a hint of the sad fate of Alan Turing, who allegedly used a poisoned apple to commit suicide. Others believe that this is a symbol of the fruit of the biblical tree of knowledge, from which the first people bit off. But Janoff himself claimed that he made the apple bitten so that it would not be confused with other fruits on small images. For example, with cherries.”

Of course, the interesting story you have prepared should be told regardless of whether someone in the audience gave the correct answer to your question or not.

By presenting information in this way, you will almost certainly say something new even to those who remembered that Rob Janoff is the author of the Apple logo. At the same time, by providing something new and interesting, you not only hold the audience’s attention and fuel their interest in the presentation topic, but also gain their authority. After all, you have just demonstrated that you know something interesting that Tony doesn’t know. It remains to use the credit of trust received wisely.

Viewer-participant = almost a client

A good way to strengthen the mentioned authority and trust, to make viewers dive headlong into the topic of the presentation with the help of questions that appeal to their opinion. For example: “What do you think about this fact?”, or “Who wants to share their opinion on this part of the presentation?”, or “In your opinion, what role can this product play in the sales department’s work?”.

By demonstrating that you value the audience’s opinion, you make them co-authors of the presentation and your proposal. By participating in the discussion of the product or solution to which you have dedicated the presentation, viewers, in essence, are already entering into a contract with you. You just need to push them a little towards making a formal deal.

Good luck to everyone, successful presentations, and high income!

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