As a presenter, you always want to know your audience. When presenting to hundreds of audience members at a large event, you could troll the lobby and get a feel for how some will react to your content. Some venues may even offer interactive polling where you could open some questions and get immediate feedback from audience members holding voting devices. You can do the same with a simple activity that most presenters take for granted.
The name of the activity is “Stand up if…” Recently, I was in the audience when Kelli Stephenson, VP Sales Effectiveness at Experian, used this method to learn about her audience and get us involved and interested.
She followed many other presenters and found an audience a little fatigued, so this served as an engaging icebreaker in addition to a low-tech polling method. She asked everyone in the room to stand initially to ensure everyone got out of their seats. Then she made statements like, “Stand if this is your first time to attend this annual meeting,” “Stand if this issue exists in your organization,” “Stand if you are new to your role in the past three years…” Not only did she learn about the audience, but also each of us understood the makeup of the entire audience. This method can help you in many ways:
Increase Retention of Information Presented
This activity creates an active learning environment, which has been proven in university studies to significantly increase the retention of the material presented.
Participants are more likely to remain attentive when they know you could initiate the “Stand-up if” exercise any time during the presentation.
Obtain Group Buy-In
By using this activity, everyone takes part.
Create a Fun Learning Environment
You can create a fun environment, while the group is learning at the same time.
Confirm Audience Understanding
The responses to questions asked during a presentation allow the speaker to see if the listeners understand what is being presented.
Often it is simple activities like this that make a presentation memorable.
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photo by Oreilly