How to Keep your Audience Engaged<br />A quick guide for facilitators of adult learners<br />Meghan Silva<br />December 7, 2010<br />
Enviornment<br />First make sure learners feel like they are part of the learning experience and that they can contribute to the discussion. <br />This can be accomplished by making sure the seats in the room are in a format which will allow for easier communication between learners. Examples include a circle, semi-circle or square where all participants are facing each other. <br />
Personal story<br />If applicable, start with a personal story or experience. This will make you more relatable to the audience and they will be more likely to listen to your thoughts and opinions in the future. <br />You want to develop a relationship with the learners right away, this will help them see the environment as a safe place to share ideas and opinions.<br />
Beginning to end<br />When it comes time to learn new information, it helps to know what the facilitator has planned for the meeting.<br />This relieves stress and issues regarding time management. <br />Audience members will appreciate this, and will be able to schedule their absences strategically if necessary.<br />
Tone of voice<br />Do your best to avoid speaking in a monotone voice. You need to make sure your audience is engaged at all times.<br />You can avoid this by facilitating more class discussion, which will lessen the time you are in front of the class lecturing.<br />If you must lecture, consider using a co-instructor that will give the audience a different perspective.<br />
Have a visual aid<br />Many learners can benefit from having a visual aid when being introduced to new concepts. Examples include, printed out class notes, a PowerPoint with key points, or video clips.<br />Having a visual aid will also help you, the facilitator, keep track of how and when to present material. <br />
Let me see a Show of hands<br />At different points throughout the presentation, ask the audience questions which require a show of hands.<br />If the audience members know they are responsible for contributing with a show of hands, they are more likely to remain engaged in the lecture. <br />
Group work <br />Another way to engage your audience is to let them stop and work in pairs or a group to complete tasks. This will help by allowing the audience members to focus on another task besides listening to a lecture.<br />This will allow them to learn from each others ideas as well as the facilitator.<br />
Role plays<br />In addition to group work, another way to engage your audience is to incorporate role plays into your presentation. <br />What better way to show what you are trying to explain than to use the willing members of the audience to demonstrate key concepts!<br />
Case studies<br />In addition to using audience members to demonstrate key concepts, also consider using case studies that can show what you are trying to get the audience to learn.<br />Case studies also allow the audience members to relate to the presentation more, especially if it is a circumstance they have encountered in their professional lives as well.<br />
Assesment<br />Give an assessment to your audience regarding what they have learned. The goal of this is to see if they were able to retain the key concepts of the lecture.<br />Although this specific tool may not help in engaging your audience, it can help in future planning if certain concepts were not learned by the majority of participants.<br />It will help you decide what material to keep and what material you might not need to present in the future. <br />
Break time!<br />Be sure to give audience members a small break to collect their thoughts or to leave the room for a brief amount of time.<br />Try to limit audience members being pre-occupied. Depending on the length of the presentation, learners may need to use building facilities or the water fountain.<br />Plan time for this and you can guarantee a more engaged audience!<br />
COnclusion<br />Remember to:<br />Create a pleasant environment<br />Start with a personal story<br />Give a small break<br />Use tools such as role plays and case studies<br />Have the learners work in groups<br />Let the learners know the plan for the meeting<br />Use a visual such as PowerPoint or a video clip<br />Avoid using a monotone voice! <br />
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