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Create for Maximum Engagement

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:

  • Explain what happens if you can’t keep your audience’s attention.
  • Describe what makes an engaging presentation.
  • Identify ways to engage the audience with questions.


Got your attention? Good, because in one word, that’s the most important thing you need to succeed in a remote presentation. Attention leads to retention, and you need both to ensure that people take away what you want them to from a meeting. 

If you can’t keep an audience’s attention, nothing you say will matter. They will disengage, multitask, or just walk away from their computers without a word.

There are ways to organize your slides and tech to get the most attention, but it all begins with you. In this unit, we look at ways you can grab and keep your audience’s attention.

Make It Personal

When you meet people in person, you shake hands, make eye contact, and generally show attention to each person in the room. These are all simple ways to make a personal connection, and none of them work in remote presentations.

Here are some ways to connect with your audience so you’re not just a face on the screen.

  • Open with an introduction. Introduce yourself, your interests, and your goals—and add a photo to your opening slide. If they know who you are and why you’re qualified to help, they’ll care more about what you have to say.
  • If the group size is manageable, ask your audience members to introduce themselves and what they hope to get out of the meeting.
  • Use your attendees’ names whenever you can, especially when asking for feedback.
  • Be ready to stop for sudden questions and to change the direction of your presentation based on your audience’s feedback.

Show Up with a Story to Tell

Being remote, your audience’s attention is already low because you’re not there in person. They will tune out completely if your plot doesn’t go anywhere. Your customers don’t want to hear a sales pitch or a product description. They want to go on a journey.

The end of a television show with the words, “Take them on a journey”

Take your audience on that journey:

  • Open strong with an attention-grabber.
  • Create a flow so that each point logically follows the last.
  • End strong with a reference back to the opening attention-grabber, a call-to-action, and a plan for next steps.

If you want to really boost ratings on your presentation, make the journey relevant to your audience. Add stories that tie your message to their interests. After all, who wouldn’t want to watch a television show that was all about them?

Get to the Point

Your audience knows how much their time is worth. Figure out your message, make it personal, and then cut out anything that isn’t absolutely necessary. You may feel like you’re losing good content, but you’re really keeping your audience. If they want to know more, they will ask you.

Ask Questions That Matter

So, is all of this making sense? Do you have any questions?

If you answered Yes to the first question and No to the second without giving the questions much thought, that should tell you something. Your audience will probably answer the same way.

Like anything else in your presentation, your questions only keep their attention if they’re designed for maximum engagement. This means they are:

  • Engaging. Ask questions that make your audience curious, not bored.
  • Open-ended. Ask questions that require full, meaningful answers and cannot be answered with a yes or no.

Here are a couple examples.

  • Do you want me to talk more about the customer profile or should I move on to an executive view of a customer dashboard?
  • How do you see your sales team using this dashboard?
  • What benefits stand out to you in this new process?

Good questions are twice as powerful when they’re well-timed. Ask your audience questions right after you introduce important parts of your presentation. This keeps them engaged and reinforces what they have just learned in their minds. Win-win!

If you really want to get their attention, say somebody’s name before asking them your question. This forces them to become involved, and it reminds the rest of the audience to tune in because they never know when you might call on them. Just avoid calling people out by name after you ask the question, because if they weren’t paying attention and missed the question, you could embarrass them.

Refocus with Q&A

Unless you’re a kid watching an educational show, you probably don’t ask your television questions. Likewise, customers probably don’t want to interrupt your presentation to ask you to clarify or repeat yourself. 

If you’re presenting to a small, intimate group whose members know each other well, open by telling them that your presentation is interactive and they can stop you any time for questions or clarification. We don’t recommend this for larger groups, because the result can be chaos.

How do you create that personal experience in a large setting? Plan Q&A sessions throughout your presentation. They keep the audience involved, and they gauge your customers’ interest and attention.

It’s also a good idea to think up four or five “for example” questions in case your audience is too shy to ask any. This gets the ball rolling, but use them sparingly. If you just answer your own questions, the only person you’re engaging is yourself!



Tip: If you plan on taking questions through chat, have a dedicated Q&A facilitator. They can answer questions online while you present, and let you know which ones to answer out loud.

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