I recently gave a presentation at the regional gathering of the Greater Los Angeles Area Mensa (GLAAM). I’ve never attended a “gathering” before. I guess GLAAM’s too cool to call it a meeting…
The regional gathering was a 3 day event, and I presented on the final day. I didn’t realize that I’d be the second to last presenter of the entire gathering. Needless to say, attendance was meagre at best – there were perhaps 6 people in the audience. But I didn’t let that get me down. Here are 3 tips to make a lowly attended event soar.
Ask the audience members to sit closer to the front
I get it. Going back to school days, the cool kids sat in the back. But I insisted that people move to the front. It made the presentation more personal. Not only that, but I had no microphone. I didn’t have to talk as loudly with people sitting up front. Save my voice? I’m a fan of that!
Address the audience members by name
During my presentation, I have a bit where I rail against sustained eye contact. I was once told that a presenter should look an audience member in the eye for 3 seconds before moving on the next victim…I mean audience member. At the gathering, there was a man in the front row. I asked him his name. He said it was David. I walked up to David and stared at him, right in his face. I was so close I could smell what he had for lunch. I counted off 3 seconds. The other audience members had a good laugh, and agreed with me that perhaps 3 seconds was a bit much! I likely wouldn’t have done this with a larger crowd, since those at the back wouldn’t have been able to see what I was doing. But with a small group? More foolishness!
Have a longer Q&A session after the speech
I cut my presentation off a little early to have a longer Q&A session because, with a smaller group, I could give more in depth answers. The more people there are in the audience, the shorter the answers must be to accommodate as many people as possible. The questions I received from the longer Q&A also helped me to think of new things to add to my presentation.
Even if the number of people in the audience is low, your presentation isn’t a lost cause. You can still get a lot out it. Just look at it as an opportunity to connect even more with your audience. It should be easier to do so – there’s less of them after all!