As a speaker, the biggest strength you can have is to be on top of your topic preparation, quality content and people engagement skills.
The biggest challenge for any public speaker is trepidation and connecting with the people in the room.
I have experienced that if your speech is audience-centered framing, you will most certainly get appraise by audience to go a long way cos they’ll never get bore.
Audience participation circumscribes a broad range of tools using various engaging activities which you can decide to give pleasure to audience.
A speaker has to be proficient in his technique to introduce activity in a successful way.
How will you change the energy of the room?
In one of my keynote on Leadership with Sirca Ltd. where I was addressing 100+ audiences on leadership, it was mix audience of executives, managers, senior management and franchisee distributors. After introduction with the audience, I could sense that Sirca sales team people required basic view of leadership to start with.
I simply used easy-medium-difficult technique.
Remember, as munchkins, we were told to adapt – easy- medium -difficult technique in examinations.
Firstly, attempt easy questions which are easy then medium followed by difficult.
Subtly, I kept on asking the questions out of answers given by the audience which can fit into their caliber to make it easy for audience and generate interest.
Audience love the fact that If speaker has asked something, we have answered it. It gives them pleasure which is contagious. Secondly, if one person has answered and got applaud the second one feels I would love to be in the limelight too. That’s all you need to connect.

If your audience is not listening,it’s not their fault.It’s yours. – Seth Godin

Sharing powerful techniques for you to increase the audience participation:

1. I.E.I. Formula: In an interview, Chairman of Aakash Institue Mr.JC Chaudhry once said,”You cannot change certain things in education system, they are irreplaceable. The policy and philosophy of talk and chalk is still not replaceable.
Likewise, there are three things which are irreplaceable in public speaking.
Inform – Ensure you have something worth to inform your audience.
Educate – Take responsibility to make sure your talk has key learnings for everyone to provide self-education.
Inspire – Despite of the first two, your talk should inspire to take action.
Include I.E.I. formula when you are preparing the structure of your speech because
it is still irreplaceable and one of the core techniques to engage audience.
2. Let the audience talk through activity:
I have attended a Startup business seminar at Taj Vivanta Delhi
where the speaker Mr. Nitin Soni was talking about the topic passion.
How an entrepreneur can follow passion facing challenges?
Biggest huddle for Nitin was to have people in the common mindset first in the hall about the booms and busts of a business.
He came up with an engagement activity of 10 minutes, before going to a lunch break.
In an audience hall of 150+ he divided people in the group of 8- 10 by asking them to move the face to the audience sitting in back row. This way in no time, teams were created in the groups, and all you need to do was to share your passion and challenges with each of your group member.
We all love to talk and especially the ones who burned the bridge . They feel now is the opportunity.
This technique of sharing their passion has made everyone interact, listen to each other who were strangers a few hours back.
Boy, it was buzz all over!! The room’s energy was at all time high level for the day.
What an high engagement technique I learnt that day. You can also use it for any specific engagement you wish to perform. It is effective and works successfully in a larger audience.
So, let the audience speak in groups wherever you feel to include it in your talk. It is a powerful technique for audience participation.
3. Engage by framing the right question:
Recently in a talk show during his keynote, this guy confessed openly that till some years back public speaking used to get me shiver in my legs and my English was very weak until I learnt the art of public speaking and now I have turned it around.
Mr. Shantanu Gupta -Tedx speaker, Author of the famous book ‘The Monk who became Chief Minister’ (a biography of Yogi Adityanath, the 21st Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh) and political analyst.
I got a chance to interact and listen to Mr. Shantanu Gupta – Tedx speaker, author of the famous book ‘The Monk who became Chief Minister’ (a biography of Yogi Adityanath, the 21st Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh) and political analyst.
He is also the communication advisor to Baba Ramdev and alumni ambassador of the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, in India.
Shantanu came at the podium and just before his speech commenced, audience were feeling thirsty and they all scattered except a few sitting in the front rows and others started checking their notifications on mobile handset.
An awkward situation for a respectable figure;
Notice the technique now, how he engaged with audience.
Seeing the stampede behind, Shantanu showed the nerve to walk his own way and smartly shifted his gears and framed a right question to the front row audience.
Hey guys,” What has been your expectations from this program?”
His framing was across – ‘expectations.’ Audience love to talk about expectations, whether it can be wise or not.
And individually he came to everyone and gathered few answers, by that time everyone was settled in the back.
In this scenario, it was all about reading and taking charge of the situation with remaining audience and he was exceptional in his approach. This is where experience speaks.
Few minutes and his talk started…
As a speaker, framing the right question is crucial.
Framed question has to be as alluring as your recent experience of watching latest Bollywood movie like Surma or buying a new mobile handset.
Audience should not feel that they are in spotlight and feel nervous about the question; rather they get a feeling of competence to engage.
Creating a competence environment for audience has to be your number one priority and everything is secondary.

Another metaphor to learn the art of framing the right question from audience:

Who all can tell what leadership is?
Can be replaced with
Who all are here to learn about leadership?
You will notice comparatively higher engagement by audience in the second one.
The framing is ‘learning’. Everyone loves to learn.
Isn’t it?
This takes me to the next technique.
4. Engage through music, dance – This technique is optional depending on the sensitivity of the event or keynote you are engaged in.
But it is a popular technique, a lot of networking platforms and motivational speakers love to engage audience using music along-with motivational speeches.
As a speaker, the highest form of energy is created when audience feels high. I was speaking on the same grounds to India’s one of the topmost motivational speaker and highly experienced sales Coach Sh. T.S Madaan to which he said,
In Hindi “Yaar Sherry, Main to sabse pehle jaate hi dhol aur music bajwa deta hu,aur sabko bolta hu chalo mil kar nachte hai aur life ko celeberate karte hai. Ekdum room ka mahual hi alag ho jata hai.”
In English – “Dear Sherry, I go and play the drum and music and tell everyone to dance and enjoy together and celebrate life. The environment of the room changes radically.”
Through dance and music a speaker can have highest level of engagement. Try this effective technique shared by my mentor Sh. TS Madaan who is one of the most sort out speaker, trainer from India.
5. Engage by calling volunteer on podium– I have attended many Tedx talks where a speaker invites a volunteer on podium and it creates amazing engagement amongst audience.
Again, be sure what kind of audience you cater and you have a key message to convey when you apply this technique.
One of my friend Pratik uppal who has recently delivered this powerful talk on –
“Why do we fear speaking on stage?” has used this powerful technique in his talk.
Watch this talk at 8:10 if you wish to see only the engagement part by the speaker.
6. Engagement by reading affirmations with audience – Most of us have created mental blocks in our minds due to our past experiences of life. Affirmations are one of the powerful ways to remove your mental blocks.
Audience reading affirmations at MS Talks public speaking conference
I followed this affirmations technique with my audience as a host in MS Talks public speaking conference – May which not only enlightened everyone, but also created positive aura in the room with immense engagement that too in just 2 minutes. Infact, one of the attendee felt so connected that he instantly thanked me for in front of packed audience.
I was able to inspire that individual in a profound way.
If you wish to see the affirmations I have used ,check it out.
7. Engagement through meditation At various mindfulness seminars or workshops I have attended in the past, state of mind plays a major role when you want to learn something. Audience most of the times are in different state of mind due to distractions around about life’s challenges.
To align everyone with the talk or to break the ice, many speakers utilize the simple meditation technique tool and the results are phenomenal.
Not only one feels relaxed but also speaker gains honest attention of the audience and it turns out to be a very effective engagement technique.
If involving everyone was easy, everyone would have become a speaker.
I am absolutely sure by now that you have learnt lot of techniques and will implement them in your sessions as speaker and please do share your feedback.
Now its your turn, tell me what has really worked for you apart from what I have shared. I would love to learn from your experience too being an avid learner.
Author Sherry

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