The magic of audience surprises

A really amazing presentation does more for the audience than just teaching them something new.  A really amazing presentation also inspires, entertains, engages emotion, and opens up a new way of seeing.  One way to help that along is to institute surprises into your delivery.  Here are some ideas, mostly based on ideas from amazing producers and curators I’ve worked with over the years:

  • Start your presentation from the back of the room.  Walk up to the stage from the back of the room, begin speaking once you enter the room.  This clearly only works with larger audiences.
  • If you are co-presenting, consider having one of the presenters start their part of the presentation from the audience.  They could be a heckler at first that you then bring on stage, or maybe a pretend volunteer.  Again works with a larger audience and ideally someone that is known by many of the audience members.
  • Throw something out.  If you’re talking about candy, throw some candy out.
  • Have something under everyone’s seats.  Announce when they should get it from under their chairs.  It could be taped or in a sealed envelope.  Oprah got a lot of traction out of this idea, you can, too.
  • Make your audience do something.  It could be say hello to 4 people around them, it could be doing the wave.  Something interactive to make them feel a part of the experience.

Have you done something that crated a sense of awe in your audience?  Been a part of something that someone else did?  Please share!

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