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Presentation Quick Tip #6 - How To Keep Your Audience Engaged

One of the biggest fears or moments of panic is when you see your audience becoming disinterested in your presentation. They are either not paying attention, being distracted by the latest game or, more than likely, the latest Grumpy Cat photo. Whatever it may be, you as the presenter hate that moment. But it doesn't have to be that way...

Check out the video for a quick explanation of what to do or keep reading for an in-depth look at this topic.

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Video length 1:08  

Yes, it's true that people have a limited attention span, but it doesn't mean we have to let that rule, or ruin, our presentations. What you have to do is re-engage or reacquire their attention just before their attention span heads south.

How long before that happens?

Most experts say that human attention span ranges from 5-10 minutes, depending on which expert you're referring to. With so many distractions, especially from always present smart phones, I'm sure the limits of human attention have gone down.

In the case of presentations, it's better to err on the lower end of the scale. Therefore, I suggest re-engaging or re-acquiring the audience's attention once every 3-5 minutes.

Great, but how the heck do I do that??

To be honest, it actually doesn't matter what you do. The point is that if you've been speaking for a few minutes, you have to break the monotony and snap people out of their trance. I'm not saying that your content is boring. I'm just saying that you must do something.

For example, you could show, or talk about, something relevant to your presentation. A video demonstrating your point is always good. In fact, Apple uses this technique in all their presentations.

Another thing you could do is give your audience an interesting fact or statistic that reinforces what you're saying. Again, just make sure it's relevant.

If you have time and it's appropriate, or if you plan it, you could tell a personal story related to your topic. But be careful that the outcome of your story isn't predictable or your audience will lose interest before you ever finish.

Finally, a live demo of some sort can also be used. If possible, get your audience directly involved to connect them what you're saying in a more direct, tangible way.

The point is...

Whatever you do, just make sure you do it and be aware of your presentation's timing so your audience never has a chance to go off into la-la land... Unless that's what you're trying to do.

Thanks and talk to you next week.




Hi, it's Carl Kwan here with Presentation Quick Tip #6.

In this week's video, you're going to learn about how to time and space out the content in your presentation to keep your audience from getting bored.

Now, everyone has a very limited attention span.

They can only pay attention for maybe 3-5 minutes, maybe 7 minutes if you're lucky.

So what you wanna do is after 3-5 minutes, you wanna say, "But here's something really interesting."

And then present a fact or a statistic or some kind of really interesting piece of information that will re-engage your audience.

And make sure though that that piece of information really is interesting or they're still gonna be bored.

So remember, if you want to engage your audience and keep their attention, and make sure they don't kinda start dozing off, every 3-5 minutes introduce something that is going to be interesting to them…A stat or a figure, or whatever kind of fact or information that they will find interesting, that'll re-engage them.

And that is Presentation Quick Tip #6.

If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below this video.

Thanks for watching.

Talk to you again soon.


Hooks, Meat and Payoffs in Presentations: Gavin McMahon Interview

In this video about starting a presentation, I interview Gavin McMahon, co-founder of fassforward consulting group and blogger on the topics of PowerPoint, presenting, communication and message discipline at Gavin shares some excellent tips, ideas, and insight on what presentations really are and how to make sure you start a presentation on the right foot. I learned a lot and I'm sure you will, too. Powerful Takeaways

One of the most powerful takeaways was how Gavin talked about when you only consider what you want to say and not what the audience wants to hear, you automagically create a monologue. Yep, it's magic and it's automatic… Instant monologue in a poof of PowerPoint pixels. But that's exactly what happens to most presenters.

Most presenters are so concerned with what they want to say, that they completely forget that it's the audience that will sit and listen. And if what you're saying doesn't matter to them, then they're gone, both emotionally and mentally. That means they've stopped paying attention and stopped caring. Don't let it happen to you!

A Client's Tale

In fact, it did happen to a client. He gave a presentation to over 100 officials from around the world, assuming that what he wanted to say was what the audience wanted to hear. After talking to him about it, the light came on… But it was too late. He had already given the presentation. Live and learn. Anyway...

There are a couple other gems in the interview. I don't want to ruin the moment by putting them all down here. Watch the video and find out for yourself.

Thanks to Gavin for taking the time to talk to me.

You can find Gavin at:


Technical stuff:

  • Video recorded via Skype
  • Edited in FCPX

Additional footage from the Internet Archive: