There is an old saying: "The first thing to do when the audience goes to sleep is to prod the speaker." Most presentations are not intense enough. The average audience is lulled to sleep by droning monotony. A really energetic presenter can lose a pound or more in the course of an hour-long presentation, which gives some idea of the vigor which can and should go into it. If you are alive, alert, intense, enthusiastic, the audience cannot put their attention elsewhere.
Direct participation by audience members is one of the best ways to keep their attention. When appropriately used, audience participation usually will focus the eyes and ears of almost every audience member on what's happening. You should always be alert to possibilities for letting people in your audiences do and say. You may simply ask questions. You may ask for volunteers to demonstrate, or use a visiting expert.
A smile can more effectively start a training off right than anything else you might do. And the remarkable thing is that it will also have a positive impact on you. Try this experiment with your next group of participants. There is no rule that says you must begin to speak immediately on reaching the podium. Say nothing, and simply view the audience. Look into the faces of as many individuals as possible and smile in a friendly way. This will relax both you and your audience. Continue to smile as occasions present themselves. Look at people, interact with them warmly, disarmingly and sincerely and see what happens.
People don't relate well to the same activity repeated over a long period of time. Trainers should try to alternate activity and lecture. Intersperse things such as chalkboard use, demonstration, lecturing, and audio-visuals so that no single one occupies too long a period. Do not "bounce" all over the podium, but furnish the audience enough variety of action and speech so that they will have some opportunity to stay alert.
Remember: relax, smile, and be energetic!
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CEO, A.E. Schwartz & Associates, Boston, MA., a comprehensive organization which offers over 40 skills based management training programs. Mr. Schwartz conducts over 150 programs annually for clients in industry, research, technology, government, Fortune 100/500 companies, and nonprofit organizations worldwide. He is often found at conferences as a key note presenter and/or facilitator. His style is fast-paced, participatory, practical, and humorous. He has authored over 65 books and products, and taught/lectured at over a dozen colleges and universities throughout the United States.medical health hospital