Conferences: Top tips on how to engage your audience

Speaking at a conference can be an intimidating prospect no matter your audience size or subject. So, how do you keep your audience engaged speaker after speaker? We’ve got tips for individual speakers and conference organisers to help you plan the best event you can.

Ditch the intro.

For individual speakers, skipping your introduction can increase engagement. Introductions can often come across as self-aggrandising, and most audience members likely already know who you are from the promotional materials. Cut your intro and use that free time to convey a valuable message, inject some humour, or get to the meat of your subject quicker.

Consider a conversational format.

Branching out from the usual single speaker platform is a great way to keep audiences listening. By conducting onstage interviews, panel discussions, and AMA sessions, you can empower the audience by letting them dictate the direction of the event. Plus, with multiple people sharing their thoughts, opinions, and experiences, the audience will leave the event having learned more.

Make it fun.

Audiences will soon switch off if your conference is just chairs and a stage. Host demonstrations, interactive elements, a raffle, 1:1 consultations or photo ops, something to get your audience out of their seats and moving about.

Work the Room.

Understand the space you’ve booked. Is it small? Make on-stage elements impactful, and easy to see and understand. This could involve arranging the seats in a unique way, using screens or music, and interacting with the audience. Is the space big? Make sure you use good quality sound and visual equipment to make sure everyone can hear and see you.

Embrace mishaps and be funny.

Don’t be afraid to have a laugh, especially if your subject is seen as “dull”. If you trip on your way to the stage, shrug it off, joke about it, show your audience that you’re prepared for anything and use that to reduce the formality. Or, link what you’re discussing to a personal experience. By doing so, you can offer the audience a structured narrative to follow. Listening to a story is always easier than a lecture as people may not even realise that they’re learning.

At Castle Green, we have a dedicated team of conference hosts who will help you plan and run a successful conference. Contact our team to find out more. Call 01539 797005 or email us at sales@castlegreen.co.uk.