workingOne of the most disheartening sights for a presenter getting on a zoom call  is surely a screen  full of disinterested people who really want to be somewhere else. If you’re the last in a long line of speakers that day and the ones before you haven’t been able to enthuse the crowd, you could be in for trouble.

So how can you turn it around and get the crowd on your side, excited, and asking for more?

Make them work!

Get them to exercise their mind in some way, then, there’s a better chance of what you’re saying being remembered.

A simple start would be to ask a question. You can start with something really basic like “raise your hands if you have been on a zoom call already today “ . This works on a number of levels because raising a hand is a simple thing to do. In my example, if this were a talk on how to get the most out of Zoom calls then there’s a fair chance a good number of the audience would have already been on a call that day. Raising a hand should be easy for even the most nervous.

It also invites a group or ‘herd’ mentality. People will begin raising their hands, and you often see a ripple as people pluck up courage when others do the same.

The ice is essentially broken. It’s time to work with this and do more to get them involved and thinking about what’s being said on stage. Here are a few pointers.

Tell a story

Most of your audience will have a day job. This will be a job that they’re currently not doing because they’re on your Zoom call,  but seeing as they often spend a lot of time at their desks , it’s a good place to begin a story.

If you can relate what you’re presenting to what happens (or what probably happens) during a typical working day, you have a better chance of them remembering what you’ve said. This is because the mind works well with ‘triggers’.

For example, imagine you’re on an especially great holiday watching the sun go down on the deck of a cruise liner drinking a piña colada, your absolutely favourite pineapple-based beverage. As you drink, you are listening to the tune “Sundown” by Gordon Lightfoot.

I’m willing to bet that if you heard that song when you got back home, you would remember that cruise, that sunset and that drink.

An office is a little less exotic, but the same principles are at play. If you can get people to relate their real world to the issues you’re talking about, it can have an incredibly positive effect on retention.

Ask them to make notes 

Many people will already be making notes, but I find this to be a problem. If they’re writing things down, they’re not listening. If you stop and ask them to make a note about something, then you are giving them time to do it and they’re not missing out on what you’re saying.

For example, if you’re giving a presentation on the best type of audio-visual set-up for a home office, you might want them to base a decision on the number of pages they really need to copy.

So, stop and ask your audience to make a note of that number  then explain what the best solution is for a range of answers. Give them time to write down that answer.

You’ve essentially told them which one of your products to buy, but psychologically, they made the decision.

Ask more questions

Yes, you’ve probably got a fantastic voice, but even so, it’s nice to get some other voices on the call.  So ask questions that will elicit longer answers. If you need to, go back to your original ‘hands up’ and then pick a few people and ask them for more information.

Try to relate these questions to their environment in the same way you told a story, get them to invest emotion and feeling into the answers.

Be more you

People relate to people they like, and they’re more inclined to trust, appreciate and remember what you’ve said if they like you. Try out some of the tips above and see what a difference they make to your next group call.


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