You’ve probably heard that our attention spans are shrinking. Over the past decades, our ever-connected world has made it harder to stay focused. What this means for you is that engaging your audience—and keeping their interest—is a pretty big challenge. No matter what kind of media you use to engage with them, you may have just a few short seconds to draw them in.
Not all of us have carefully honed presentation skills, and we may not be masters of crafting content. Even so, connecting with your audience is a skill you can learn, and there are a few tips to help you master it. Here’s how to engage an audience.
Find a Connection
Before you even start, you have to prove yourself to your audience. This doesn’t mean swaying them to your side with a long list of your background and expertise—it means winning them over. Listeners have to relate to you to care about what you’re saying, and that’s hard to do when they don’t know you at all. Help them empathize by offering similarities, like a common problem, a wish or a hope, or a shared experience.
Tell a Story
Stories resonate with us. As human beings, we’ve been telling them for thousands of years, so we naturally gravitate to a great narrative that keeps us on the edge of our seat. As a result, focusing on our natural tendency to love stories can help you engage any audience.
We tend to key into stories with conflicts that play on our emotions. For example, sharing a story of what could be in the future might make us feel either hopeful or fearful. A story of challenges and adventures can incite our sense of excitement and intrigue. Even in the most technical and seemingly “dry” context, there’s always a concrete example you can use to illustrate your point.
Interact With Them
This, of course, is much easier if you’re connecting with your audience on social media, where interaction is part of the engagement structure. But it’s just as critical in other types of media, if not more. Try asking quick questions during a presentation, or add a poll to a blog post. Showing your audience that you’re listening to them can be a quick way to make them sit up a little straighter.
Make It Visual
Show a picture to catch the eye. Create an infographic that tells your story. Add a chart or graph to illustrate your research. Our gazes are naturally drawn to visual content, so it’s a good way to pique your audience’s interest.
Structure Your Content
Whether this means structuring your slideshow or developing an outline for your blog, everything you offer your audience should have a beginning, middle, and end. You should also break it into sections so it’s easier to digest. And don’t forget to add a sense of closure at the end, from a return to your initial anecdote to a view of the future to a call to action.
Engaging your audience may not come easily at first, but using these tips (in addition to plenty of practice) can really streamline your efforts. For more tips on collaborating and connecting, check out our other blogs, or jump into one of our mastermind groups for more personalized support.