In a world where the newest BuzzFeed quiz beckons or time is ticking down to the next HQ Trivia question, event speakers find themselves struggling to get and keep attendees’ attention. In fact, we at Evenium like to call the plague of event participants who tune out in our hyper-connected world Meeting Attention Deficit Disorder (M-ADD).
Event speakers, their content and presentation delivery styles are key to getting event attendees to tune in and not out. Here are our top tips to kick M-ADD to the curb and receive a standing ovation with your next presentation.
The Content Basics
Thanks to the popularity of TED Talks, presentation content has experienced a major shift. Long gone are copy-dense, hard to read slides. Today’s presentations are highly visual and engaging, with crisp, minimal copy.
Aaron Weyenberg, director, research and development and former UX lead at TED Conferences, has said, “If there are a lot of words on your slide, you’re asking your audience to split their attention between what they’re reading and what they’re hearing. That’s really hard for a brain to do, and it compromises the effectiveness of both your slide text and your spoken words.”
And as the old adage goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Weyenberg believes in the power of strong visuals in presentation content. “I love using simple, punchy photos in presentations because they help what you’re saying resonate in your audience’s mind without pulling their attention from your spoken words. Look for photos that (1) speak strongly to the concept you’re talking about and (2) aren’t compositionally complex.”
Both of these strategies also prevent speakers from reading slides verbatim — which is a surefire way to attendees tuning out.
Break the Ice
Just as many start a workout with stretching or a light warm-up to get the heart pumping, event speakers should do the same. Instead of jumping into a presentation, arrive early and “work the room.”
Spend a little time greeting and meeting attendees as they enter, asking simple questions like what are they most interested in learning or what was the prime reason for attending the session.
Some of the most successful speakers take the warm-up to the next level by using an event app to break the ice. With an app like Evenium ConnexMe, it’s easy to launch a simple audience warm-up poll to quickly get everyone’s pulse.
One of our favorite, fun ideas is to use a poll to ask, “How is everyone doing today?” And instead of the standard thumbs up or thumbs down response, we put up answers like a shining sun, a partly cloudy sky or drizzly raindrops to put a new spin on attendees’ responses. A simple poll with clever responses literally brightens everyone’s moods and lets them know the session is going to be different and they should keep paying attention.
Involve Attendees in the Content
Let’s face it: attendees no longer come to events to see a parade of PowerPoints and listen to talking heads all day long. Event attendees come to learn from experts and peers and to be part of a larger experience.
With event apps like ConnexMe, event speakers can easily involve attendees in content to create a dynamic learning environment. Try these ideas to get started:
- Live polls: ask simple questions that show up and are answered from attendees’ devices to open up group contributions
- Key learning evaluation: monitor attendees’ learning and retention with short questions incorporated throughout the session
- Real-time feedback: ask attendees about topics they’d like to explore or hear what they think about what has been covered so far
- Annotate slides: encourage attendees to make notes and comments on shared slides and push the annotations to the main screen for further group discussion
- Facilitated Q&A: have attendees post and rate live comments that are displayed on the main screen so the speaker can determine what the audience is most interested in discussing further
If you’d like to learn how easy it is to add more interactivity and engagement to your next presentation to score a standing ovation, request a demo and let Evenium show you how to take your presentation to a perfect 10!