The Creative

5 Tips for Powerful Audience Participation

April 23, 2014, Presentation Delivery

Powerful Audience Participation

[Image: Flickr user Mike Fisher]

Jesse Scinto wants you to change the way you speak to an audience. More accurately, he wants you to stop speaking AT your audience and instead create a more conversational experience. To help us achieve this lofty goal, he recently wrote an article about this for Fast Company entitled “5 Tips for Powerful Audience Participation.” I had the chance to speak to Jesse, who is a communications consultant to FP2020 at the United Nations Foundation as well as a lecturer at Columbia University.

SR – “What prompted you to write this article? Did you get tired of seeing people miss opportunities to thoughtfully engage with the audience?”

JS – “Essentially, yes. Presenters often put a lot of pressure on themselves to ‘perform,’ which heightens anxiety and distances them from the audience. But as soon as you invite others to talk, the presentation becomes a shared event. All eyes are no longer on you alone. Audience members share some responsibility. However, it still requires preparation. I’ve seen a lot of people try to use audience participation and fail, because of the reasons described in my article.”

SR – “You start with an attempt at audience participation that unfortunately didn’t work out. Has there ever been a time when you noticed powerful audience participation?”

JS – “Haha! I notice it in my classroom all the time. Seriously, though, when you allow the audience to bring something to the table and engage person-to-person, presentations become much more dynamic. The speaker no longer feels pressured to entertain. Time flies and everyone enjoys themselves. I saw this on a recent trip to England, where I took a tour of the Tower of London. The Beefeater who led the tour frequently invited people into the conversation, posing questions about the participants themselves and about the objects we saw. Adam Grant, in his recent book Give and Take, discusses the fact that leaders who ask questions and listen are judged more likeable, more human, and therefore more persuasive. Great read, by the way.”

SR – “We’re a presentation design firm. How might a speaker use visuals to foster audience participation? Any key tips for that?”

JS – “Visuals are a perfect tool for audience participation, because they give the audience a shared reference point. Audience members often react emotionally to images of people and faces, which makes them especially effective. Data visualizations and graphics are also useful, so long as they’re not too complex. When people have to decipher difficult slides, they get distracted from the verbal message. Attention is literally divided.”

Jesse’s tips are useful and easy to implement. They will also help you relax once you realize that there are kind souls in the audience who are truly interested in having a meaningful exchange with you. So, go forth and make a connection!

Shaunna Randolph – PPG Marketing Manager

Supporting Your Brand With Video: The Expert Video

April 22, 2014, Best Practices, Video

Stelligent Expert Video Screenshot


Expert Videos help our clients engage their customers at the beginning of the buying process. With all the information available online, customers no longer seek out a salesperson until they already know what they want. According to CEB, buyers don’t even engage with vendors until they’re 57% of the way through the buying process. With an Expert Video, you can reach these customers and address their questions now, all the while differentiating yourself from your competitors.

 When customers are still in the research stage, they have large appetites for information and longer attention spans.  In order to determine the positives and negatives of your product or service, they want the full picture.  It’s important to get your message just right because if your Expert Video starts to feel more like a commercial than a reliable source of information, that attention will disappear quickly.  An Expert Video is not promotional but is a way to build customer confidence and show how you stand out from the competition.

In the above sample video, Stelligent uses their expertise to reframe the way their audience thinks about the advantages of a continuous delivery system.  This Expert Video is successful because it explains the concepts visually in a way simple enough for anyone to understand and helps the customer see their advantages without a hard sell.

Adam Kiser – PPG Designer

Charlie Tranen – PPG Strategic Accounts Lead

The #Hashtag 101 Infographic: Basics, Best Practices, and an Adorable Hashbot!

April 17, 2014, Infographics

Hashtag Thumbnail

Social media today moves at a mind-blowing pace.  As soon as we feel like we’ve gotten the hang of one thing, something new flies onto the radar.  It’s tough to keep up with it all.  For example, it’s likely you’ve heard of hashtags.  Suddenly, they’ve become part of our everyday lives, but many of us don’t truly understand how to use them.

PPG designer, Aries Wan, realized that even though hashtags are everywhere, she was one of the people who didn’t know a lot about them.  That’s how she came up with the idea for April’s infographic, #Hashtag 101. Like a true PPG designer, instead of performing a simple Google Search about the subject, she opted for a more interesting approach.

“It’s like I woke up one day and there were hashtags everywhere,” she explains.  “Once I started researching the topic I was amazed at how influential they’ve become.  A hashtag can be a very powerful sharing tool.  So powerful, in fact, that if you don’t know what you’re doing it could hurt your business or reputation.”

Never fear!  In the #Hashtag 101 infographic, our adorable friend the hashbot has fun teaching exactly what you need to know about optimizing the usage of hashtags for your business.

ProPoint’s also getting in on the fun with our own hashtag.  Follow us on Twitter and share #pimpmypresentation.  Use our new hashtag to share the presentations that you find.  We’re sure you’ve seen some gems…and some doozies!

Shaunna Randolph – PPG Marketing Manager