Audience Engagement Tricks

Aaleem Presenting - Cropped

Yesterday I presented my final project as a summer student at Cenovus — after the presentation, one of the senior guys on my team (his name is Oz) came up to me and said: “I never realized how much of an art form presenting could be! That was AMAZING!”

Those of you that know me are probably aware of my skills as a presenter. For those of you that don’t I’ll give you a brief introduction:

My name is Aaleem Jiwa and I am a 4th year finance student at the University of Alberta. But my real claim to fame is case competitions! Since 2011 I’ve participated in 12 case competitions and won 5 with top 3/finalist positions in 4 more.

So back to my story. After congratulating me, Oz asked me how I learned to present so well, and I told him: “its all about the tricks!” And I’m going to share some of my favorite tricks with you today!

One of the most powerful things you can do during a presentation is to keep the audience engaged, either by interacting with them or using an unexpected technique. There are 3 tried and true techniques that I’d like to share with you today:

1. The Story
I frequently use a story that includes a person in the room. This works well when you are presenting to people you know: Say I am presenting to my class mates and my best friend Sam is in the room (who I’ve know since I was a kid). I might use a story like: “When me and Sam were kids playing street hockey in the neighborhood. My dad gave me a great piece of advice that I still remember today”

Notice how the story actually has nothing to do with Sam! In fact I can put just about any piece of wisdom, whether my father said it or not, and so long as HE isn’t in the room, there’s no one to refute it.

Now I always recommend using true stories, because they work better. But I think you get the idea. By including someone in the room that everyone knows, it creates a real connection between you and the audience. At the end of the presentation I will usually go back to the story and say something like “I truly believe that piece of advice my dad gave me all those years ago still rings true today”.

Stories that name drop are great too! In my presentation yesterday I told a story about conversation I had with the CEO of Cenovus: Brian Ferguson. It was a true story and really got everyone engaged in my presentation: after all if I have the CEOs ear then I must be worth listening to!

2. The Survey
“By a show of hands, who has been to Paris?”

Asking people to raise their hands is a great way of getting people involved in your presentation. I like to use this somewhere in the middle of a presentation to wake people up and remind them to listen to me!

And always say: “by a show of hands” or “raise your hand if”. If you skip this step, when you ask “has anyone been to Paris?” People may just nod and smile.

3. Have a Conversation With Your Fellow Presenter
This is probably my favorite trick! During a presentation I will ask my fellow presenter a question: “So Rya, we know x and y but what about z?” And Rya always has the answer on the next slide!

I like to use all 3 in every presentation if I can! Try one the next time you present and let me know how it goes!

Like my good friend Oz said, presenting really is an art form. So make your next presentation into a masterpiece!

Warm regards,

Aaleem Jiwa

Have a great trick you’d like to share? Leave a comment!


One thought on “Audience Engagement Tricks

  1. I LOVE all of these tips! Still practicing my implementation of them 😉 My favorite technique is to use a little story, joke or metaphor at the beginning to create a connection with the audience. It’s not always easy to come up with one that fits the theme of the case, but if you do, there is nothing better than ending a case with a few words that tie back to your creative introduction because it leaves a stronger impression on the judges/audiences. Also, I find it really helps if you use acronyms or catchy titles in the recommendation portion of the case for the same reason 🙂 Oh, and don’t forget to smile lots and pay attention (add in some occasional nodding) to your fellow presenters because if you look engaged- your audience will be more likely to be engaged too!

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