In the kingdom of speaking, “engagement” wears the crown. And unfortu- nately, he is a king ignored by many. But it’s time to embrace his righteous power and face the hard facts. Without engagement, we can’t deliver as pro- fessional speakers and trainers. Why? Because this is the era of a new market- place defined by hyper competition where the pressure is on for organizations to increase efficiencies, drive sales and improve all areas of their business operation. Never before has there been a greater need for organizations to maximize return from their strategic training initiatives. Clients expect speakers to fulfill and
deliver on this need. To do so, we must engage our audiences.
But that’s no easy task.
Most organizational initiatives are found to be dull and
dry by the very stakeholders who are invested in their deployment. How can we turn the engagement game in our
favor when the odds are stacked so high against us?
In my 20 years as a professional speaker, I've learned
some very powerful lessons, often the hard way. Get ready to
unlock the secrets of serious speaking sorcery. Here are my top
tips, tricks and methods for mastering audience engagement for
keynotes, workshops or training events:
1Leverage the power of gamification. Gamification is the single most important component for driving audience and stakeholder engagement.
Gamification is used in virtually all industries. Its primary purpose is to modify human behavior and stakeholder
engagement through the proven principles of game mechanics—rewards for
completed actions. For example, when
you use a frequent flyer program, you
are being “gamified.” You are doing
precisely what the airline wants you to
do: Buy more airline tickets. We play
the game because we want the game rewards. This is the most powerful way
to drive engagement because you must
participate to get rewarded.
I have witnessed the power of gamification on an enterprise level. Recently, I
was asked to help a multibillion-dollar corporation quickly save $30 million through
cost cutting. The company also hired
some “lean” consultants to set up over a
dozen cost-containment committees. At
the end of their initiative, they discovered
virtually no cost- saving opportunities.
When I got involved, I
helped set up an internal Enterprise Social Network (ESN)
that leveraged game mechanics. I created my own version of the famous
“The Biggest Loser Challenge,” which
was nothing more than a fun, socialized
game that posed the cost-cutting objective to employees in a game format.
Employees presented over 2,000 ideas
that resulted in over $7 million in savings—in just a few weeks. That's the
power of stakeholder engagement.
2Use a system and ask your clients deep questions. Comprehensive pre-event forms
are the foundational building blocks
that help create engaging talks. In my
experience, they have helped me identify information gaps to fill during pre-event meetings.
Pre-event questionnaires structure
and determine the pre-event discussions
I’ll need to have with the client. These
resources are also used as the “wire
frame” for my talk. This big-picture
approach allows me to verify that I am