You’ve delivered the presentation, your attendees are busy scribbling away at the evaluation cards, what do you think they are writing? ‘Dynamic speaker, kept me interested, learnt a lot’, or perhaps a rather less encouraging ‘the biscuits were good’. Making presentations to external organisations, delivering workshops to new starters, conducting seminars during company training days; presentation skills are particularly relevant for the HR professional. However, not all of us are naturals at bringing others on board for the journey and keeping them interested along the way. At the heart of being effective at imparting information that others retain is engagement, here are our top tips to engage your audience.

Stimulate the senses: It is suggested that people will remember a minimal amount of what they hear but around half of what they see and hear. Rather than relying on hearing alone, think about how you can engage the senses within your presentation. Visual cues are an obvious choice, but how about utilising tangible aids? Think of relevant items to your company and topic; activating the touch sense will send millions of signals to the brain and increase blood flow around the body, all pointing to highly engaged delegates.

Get participants involved: The best learning is active learning as demonstrated by the assertion that we remember almost three quarters of what we say and almost all of what we say and do. Utilise different formats including questioning, group work, role play and activities within your presentation. The more involved your attendees are in uncovering the key information, the more likely they are to retain it.

Create a relaxed training space: We learn best when we are calm, when our minds are unhurried and our brains are receptive to the information we are receiving. Your new starters may be feeling nervous when they step through the door to your workshop, your seminar attendees may be mentally ticking off tasks on their to-do list; in fact, it is highly likely that most participants will not (initially) be in the optimum frame of mind. Think of ways to make the training environment more comfortable, relaxed and welcoming. Music as your delegates enter the room is one possible tool.

Think PIED: And now to you; your presentation style will impact greatly upon your participants’ level of engagement. Positivity: If you’re not comfortable presenting or you have five other seminars to complete that day, ensure your negativity doesn’t seep into your style. Mind calming or relaxation exercises can assist as you prepare. Intonation: People often forget about intonation, it’s not just about what is said, but how it is said. Vary speed and tone to keep attendees interested. Enthusiasm: If you’re not enthused about the topic, it’s highly unlikely that you will be able to persuade others to be so. Delivery: Think about your stance, remember an animated person is more stimulating to watch than one who is immobile. When the only visual cue is you, it’s up to you to engage.