3 methods for talking ‘with,’ rather than ‘to’ your audience

Follow these approaches for having an engaging conversation with your group.

Follow these approaches for having an engaging conversation with your group

How should I grab the audience when I start my speech? With a joke? Dramatic and startling statistics? Famous quote? Story with a moral?

Or with what I feel is the most effective way—asking a question of the audience. It enables you to connect immediately. You are having a conversation with audience members, instead of talking to or at them.

The size of the audience doesn’t matter as much as the type of answer you are going for. Do you want a verbal reply from an individual or from the whole group? Do you want a show of hands? Is the question simply rhetorical?

First, the verbal reply. You can ask the whole group a question, but this often requires more than one try because a person will be reluctant to be the first to speak up.

I recommend asking questions directly of individuals. The key is the question should be open-ended and structured such that any answer is correct.

When I teach the elements of giving a presentation, after a very short introduction explaining to the audience what they should expect to get out of the session, I ask, “What do you want to accomplish in any given presentation?”

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