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Tips for Using Conversational Presenting

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Whether you’re presenting to an in-person audience, a virtual audience, or a hybrid audience, engaging your audience members and capturing their attention is always a priority. You need to be sure you have their attention and focus, and one of the best ways to do this is with a style known as conversational presenting.

What is Conversational Presenting?

What exactly is conversational presenting, you might ask? 

We cover that in detail here, but here’s a quick definition from that post for now:

“The simplest way to explain conversational presenting is the action of delivering a presentation that provides your audience with the opportunity for organized interaction.

Conversational presenting is about transforming a presentation into an experience that’s fun, engaging, and impactful.

As your audience engages more and more with your presentation, the more impact it has on them. And the more likely they are to want to be involved with it.”

Tips for Conversational Presenting

So, we’ve talked about what it means, but now it’s time to talk more about how to do it yourself. Or, more importantly, how to do it well. 

After all, it’s one thing to give a presentation. But giving a presentation that captures attention, engages an audience, and leaves them wanting more? That’s a whole different ball game.

And here’s how to do it.

Interaction

The core element of conversational presenting is interaction. Isn’t that what a conversation is, after all? There needs to be some sort of back-and-forth element to nail this style. And no, this doesn’t necessarily mean the entire presentation is a back and forth conversation. What it does mean, however, is there are different opportunities to interact (in any number of ways) throughout the presentation.

Here are some examples: 

  • The primary speaker takes regular breaks to hear from the audience
  • The speaker’s questions aren’t rhetorical—they are meant to be answered by audience members, either by raised hands or with the use of live polls or Q&As
  • Audience members can share their feedback, ask questions, or offer up opinions throughout the presentation
  • The speaker can use different interactive elements throughout the presentation strategically when they notice participation and engagement start to drop off
  • The audience has different opportunities to interact not only with the speaker, but with other audience members (a great way of doing this is with the use of a dedicated online group chat)

Positioning

There’s a time and a place where standing still and speaking from a podium is the right approach to a presentation. But if your goal is to engage your audience and capture their attention, this isn’t the best practice for doing so! The podium creates a barrier between you and the audience

Instead, it’s better to move around the stage freely. This allows you to interact more easily with audience members as you go. Your body language is also on display this way which can help invoke emotion and get your point across. 

Another option is being seated in a relaxed position, perhaps on a stool. Or, you can sit on the stool for part of your presentation (perhaps when you’re hearing from audience members). Then, when it’s your turn to talk, you can get up and move around as you wish. 

Always Talk to Someone

If you’re struggling with making conversational presenting feel natural, a great place to start is picking someone to “talk” to throughout the presentation. However, it’s important to switch up who this person is throughout the presentation so you don’t look robotic. Perhaps you can choose one person in each section of the audience and pretend you’re speaking directly with them while you present. (Just don’t hold uninterrupted eye contact for too long with a single person or you risk making them uncomfortable!)

Not only does this help it feel more natural, but picking different people to “talk” to has other benefits. Namely, it helps you avoid falling into the trap of staring at your notes or at a screen rather than looking at and interacting with the audience. 

Implement Storytelling

Let’s say you meet up with a friend to catch up over coffee. But instead of having a conversation, they recite facts about coffee. As strange as that might be, it’s something many presenters accidentally do even though they intend for their presentation to be more conversational in nature. 

But rather than reciting facts to an audience, focus on telling them a story instead. The same way you want to hear stories about your friend’s life rather than facts about coffee, your audience will be moved and more engaged by your own storytelling rather than sharing facts. 

 

 

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