Tuesday, 28, February 2017
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- The Bristol
10 ways to keep your audience captivated in meetings
Even seasoned event organisers and public speakers can lose their audience’s attention at one wrong turn. Be sure to steer your meeting in the right direction with our expert tips
1. Engage as many senses as possible
You can’t just expect to reel off a few points from a Power Point presentation and have the whole room captivated. Get them transfixed with the use of (relevant) props, music, videos, or even food.
2. Keep it interactive
Get the whole room involved with your presentation or discussions, have interactive elements to the day; breakaway groups and activities get people bonding and warm them up. Just when you think you’ll losing the audience's attention throw in a pop quiz or competition, with prizes.
3. Trigger emotions
Your colleagues and employees will be more engaged with the conference or meeting you’re holding if you can prompt an emotional response from them. We’re not talking Oscar-winning performances that will make them all cry, but if you can find a touch point that they can personally relate to it is more likely to keep them interested. Prior to the event it might be worth holding small round-tables with key members of your team to find out what issues or concerns they have, or equally what makes them happy.
4. Master the art of public speaking
This is absolutely critical to effectively leading a team, breaking into the boardroom or pitching successfully yet public speaking doesn’t come naturally to everyone and often causes even the most seemingly bullish of CEOs to balk at the idea. Use your nerves to your benefit, they will cause you to be more cautious with your presentation, taking less risks with your speech. However simple tips like taking three deep breaths before you start, slowing down your flow, pausing before and after critical statements and having prompt notes rather than trying to memorise your whole speech can make the world of difference. Warm up your voice before you start to avoid the dreaded dry mouth squeak when you start, study your audience in advance, identify with them (see previous point) and make sure you start with a bang.
5. Dress the part
Paying attention to your appearance will give you more confidence when it comes to standing up in front of a room full of people and holding a successful meeting. Think about what sort of tone you want to set, is it formal suits or more relaxed. Make sure your clothes complement the environment you’re in and the usual style of the office. Think about what you want your clothes to say about you.
6. Be aware of people’s attention spans
You may find this surprising but nowadays most people’s attention spans are about 7-10 minutes. Make sure the day or meeting is split up into 10-15 minute sections. Stop for tea breaks regularly or change the direction of the day just when you start to see the glazed looks across your audience’s faces. For example, start with a 10-minute motivational speech, move on to an interactive element, followed by a coffee break. Keep the day flowing smoothly and stick to a schedule. Don’t run over.
7. Don’t let one person dominate the meeting
How ever much one person may love the sound of their own voice, get different ones involved. Ask team members to present, bring in charismatic guest speakers who are experts on a particular subject, this will keep people’s attentions from wavering too.
8. Summarise succinctly
Don’t leave the conference or meeting hanging at the end of the day/session. Make sure you clear up what has been discussed or decided and what action points need to be taken. Ensure minutes are taken and sent around to all those in attendance afterwards.
9. Don’t forget food and drink
If you’re inviting people for a breakfast meeting make sure you have pastries and coffees for them, equally if your meeting/conference runs over lunch have a good break in a different room for all the team – this is a good opportunity to have informal conversations and if you’re trying to seal a deal may even be the time to clinch it, away from the formality of the boardroom table. The Bristol’s event team can help with all your food and drink requirements and ensure they’re interesting and delicious.
10. Choose a relevant space
Working environments are changing. Stark boardrooms with no windows are not going to inspire success. You just have to take a look at the likes of Google, Innocent Smoothie or Facebook’s offices to know that creativity breeds creativity. Choose a room that will work for your event, you want lots of natural sunlight, air and comfortable seating, plus breakaway areas.
For help planning your meeting, picking an event space and any other questions get in touch with The Bristol’s expert meetings and events team