Engaging Your Audience in the Age of the Mobile Device…

Have you ever presented at a meeting where no one makes eye contact? Everyone looks up for the preliminary introductions, you may shake hands with a few people, but after that your presentation begins and each person is suddenly lost to their significant (technical) other — the smartphone/tablet in their hands.

“Perhaps,” you may think, “it’s me…. My presentation is not exciting enough to grab their attention…. Perhaps it’s too long and they’re getting bored….” Once the self-doubt sets in, questions like these crop up quickly and go on forever while you try to implement some sort of damage control and reclaim your audience.

In times like this, it’s important to maintain confidence — confidence in your product and in yourself. Your efforts, your knowledge, and your skills qualify you to be in that space at that moment. Don’t let a mere case of nerves get to you. Pitch your information with the natural confidence that comes from knowing yourself and believing in the content of your presentation.

Know your audience. What will appeal to them? There is little you can do to change the mindset or habits of the people to whom you are pitching. Having said this, you *can* try to use certain gimmicks to draw your audience in and call attention to your product/concept. Focus on building anticipation in preparation for the live meeting. Create a space for your product/concept where you know it will be seen and appreciated by your audience:

  1. Engage your audience by making bits of your presentation available via social media so they are looking at the material.
  2. Redirect their attention to the screen positioned by you to explain parts of the presentation that were not included in the online version. When they look up, offer an engaging smile and eye contact.
  3. Wrap up the presentation by using available apps to create a dynamic discussion or to conduct an online survey.

There are currently several smartphone/tablet apps through which you can implement this combination of steps. With a very basic search, you can find the one that you like best.

“But what if it doesn’t work? What if they still seem disinterested?” Use every experience to build a better presentation. If you have an isolated negative experience, be confident enough to shake it off; if you are experiencing negative feedback from a specific group but are confident in the value of your product and your ability to discuss it, you may want to consider finding another company or department that will appreciate what you bring to the table. If you feel that there was something lacking in your presentation/delivery – or even if you just feel the need for reliable feedback – ask a trusted member of the group to offer advice, return to the proverbial drawing board, and tweak the angle of your pitch. Keep things fresh and positive in terms of your approach and any props (live or online) that you select.

In reality, no concept is completely flawless, no elevator pitch is impervious to detailed questioning, and no individual’s ideas are always accepted lock-stock-and-barrel. Keep an open mind and a positive, confident attitude!

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