You know you’ve got great content and your audience is primed and ready to receive it, but how do you guarantee to engage them from the off and help them get the most out of your talk? These simple ideas will give you the best chance at holding an interactive seminar that will stimulate discussion and learning.
1. Set the tone of your session by getting in touch with attendees a week or so beforehand. Perhaps you could email out a questionnaire with a view to starting your talk with some of the responses. Kicking things off with an element of interaction will encourage delegates to stay involved as the session moves on.
2. Ask everyone to introduce themselves – either to their neighbours or to the whole group depending on the size of your audience – at the beginning of the talk. Lots of people will be interested in networking during the breaks and this gives people a chance to spot other attendees they want to introduce themselves to.
3. Ask your audience what they want to get from the session. Don’t be afraid of the silence. Sit tight and someone will eventually speak up.
4. Break the room up into small groups to discuss certain topics and make sure everyone gets a chance to speak by introducing a round robin system. Change the groups round and make people switch seats to help energise everyone.
5. Ask direct questions to audience members – easy ones anyone can answer so no one feels like they have got the answer ‘wrong’. As well as involving people, this also keeps attendees on their toes wondering if they may be spoken to next.
6. Use whiteboards and get your delegates to write things down for you, get people voting with a show of hands, introduce little games, encourage clapping… anything you can do to get your audience moving during the talk will stop people from getting drowsy – or even falling asleep.
7. Ban laptops, phones and notebooks. A roomful of faces looking down doesn’t make for an interactive talk. Promise to email notes round afterwards and try to encourage eye contact.
8. Allow your audience regular breaks. The breaks need only be 10 minutes long but make sure they are quality breaks. Fresh air, a little team building game, a cup of coffee and biscuit -encourage your attendees to do something invigorating so they return ready to participate again.
9. Set up a post-talk, interactive online session before your attendees leave. Maybe you could ask them to find something out and report back to the group? Keeping the conversations going after the seminar will increase your chances of re-bookings for next year and help reinforce new networking contacts that have been made.
10. Encourage feedback by emailing out a link to a post-event questionnaire that people can fill out anonymously. Make it clear you’re genuinely after constructive criticism so you can improve next year’s lecture.
If you need help organising your next event, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our in-house planning team who can take care of all the details for you. Call Tony or his highly experienced team on 020 3313 1606.