I was coaching a client lately on presentation. The feedback he received from the participants included “boring” and “not engaging”. Upon having him presenting to me, I realized one of the major issues he had was that he was telling almost all the time.
People learn from autonomy and reflection. In presentations, we, as audience, don’t want to be told and preached. We want to be part of the discovery, think and come out conclusions on our own.
The easiest way to achieve that is through asking questions. Questions make people think and reflect. When we are posed a question, our brain will automatically look for answers. (That explains why you need to be careful of what questions you ask yourself. Check out the book Question Your Way to Sales Success by Dave Kahle for further reading.)
Ask questions not only when you want the audience to reflect, but when you want to test the audience’s understanding, when you want them to feel they come out the solutions by themselves… Keep in mind though,asking questions is a very good way to engage the audience and it serves a purpose. Asking for the sake of asking does not work well.
Another common challenge my clients have is, “What if they don’t answer?” This is where you need to prepare saving lines in case there’s no response. One often-asked question in the speaking world is “Do you have kids?” If there’s no one answering, the speaker will go, “Wow, raise your hand if you have kids and you don’t even know.” That’s the saving line you prepare in advance. When you deliver that line, the audience probably laughs. The best part, when they laugh, they are more relaxed and open to you.