How to overcome audience paralysis at your conference

By Samantha Gennett (Staff Writer)

A common problem that presenters run into is audience paralysis. When this occurs, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your presentation or event is uninteresting, it just means that your audience needs an extra nudge to get engaged due to shyness, uncertainty, fear, and anxiety of being on the floor (not to mention the classic case of a “mic hog” who can deter other people from participating). This problem can also be attributed to the presence of bosses and people higher up on the food chain that intimidate audience members and make them hesitant to interact right away.

Encourage interaction through open-ended questions

Audience paralysis can hinder effective feedback, but this issue can be easily fixed through a push notification that poses an open-ended question to neutralize the situation. Your question encourages them to interact—you can even make their responses and questions anonymous which, in turn, will ease their minds, make them more inclined to participate, and initiate more authentic feedback. Additionally, anonymity fosters a more democratic environment because it allows everyone’s voice to be heard, ensuring that no one is over or underrepresented.

In-app questions to the speaker stimulates conversation

Another perk of using an event app to encourage participation is that audience members can send the speaker questions while the presentation is simultaneously happening—this creates active and flowing conversation making the audience feel more like participants rather than spectators. This also prevents question loss over time. The chances an attendee will remember their first question after a 30-minute presentation is slim; now they can proactively input their question as it comes to them.

Anonymous feedback = a goldmine for the organizer

Lastly, opening up the floor via an event app, where audience feedback can be anonymous, gives the presenter/company leading the session/event an opportunity to collect all of this information and make it actionable. Genuine audience feedback makes companies aware of how their events are received and gives them the opportunity to improve based on these honest reactions.

Using an event app like MeetApp during a presentation can not only squash audience paralysis, but give companies authentic audience responses that can help them improve future conferences in the long run.

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