Activities that engage your audience—even if they are brief—help them learn and keep them interested in your content.
Here are suggestions on ways you can engage your audience beyond Q&A. If you have additional ideas for audience engagement, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will post them here!
Keys for Active Learning:
Ask attendees a multiple choice question to assess prior knowledge about session content, comprehensive of learning in session, or opinion of issue related content.
When to Use: Anytime throughout session
Need: polleverywhere and mobile devices, although simple show of hands can suffice
Length of Time: 1–3 minutes
True or False
Display a series of statements about the topic and ask participants to decide whether each is true or false. Then provide background information related to each statement.
When to Use: Beginning of session or when introducing new concept
Length of Time: 3 minutes
At beginning of session, ask attendees to think about what they already know about the session’s topic and what they hope to learn about the session’s topic. Attendees then share with the person next to them.
When to Use: Beginning of session
Length of Time: 3–5 minutes
Ask attendees to reflect on their experience with the session’s content. Come up with a positive experience and a negative experience. Share with a neighbor or small group.
When to use: Beginning of session
Length of time: 3–5 minutes
Ask attendees to make a list associated with your session’s content (ex. all the benefits of strategic planning).
When to use: Usually beginning of session
Length of time: 3 minutes
Key Word Summary/Word Cloud
Ask attendees to write down key word summaries or draw their own word clouds that best describe what they have learned so far.
When to use: Mid-session, end of session
Length of time: 5 minutes
Stump Your Partner
Ask attendees to think of the question or concept they find most challenging. Attendees pose the question to their neighbor. Any questions that were not able to be answered between partners can be posed to the presenters.
When to Use: Throughout session
Time: 5–7 minutes
Post a question that demands analysis, evaluation, or synthesis. Attendees take 2 minutes to think individually about a response to the question. Then, attendees turn to partner and share responses. Responses are shared with larger group.
When to Use: Any time during session
Time: 5–10 minutes
Case Study Debate
While reviewing a case study, stop when you reach a point where a difficult decision in the case study had to be made. Describe why the decision was difficult. Ask attendees to partner and debate one side of the decision versus the other side of the decision (if they have no preference for which side, offer clear instructions for how to choose, ex. person whose date of birth falls earlier in the year will debate decision side A). What decision should be made? Allow attendees to debate for 4-5 minutes, then reveal which decision was made and why.
When to Use: Mid-session
Time: 5–7 minutes
What Would You Do?
Invite your audience to imagine themselves in a situation that you describe, and to think about what they would do. Encourage out-loud responses, either in the context of a small group, or to the group as a whole.
When to Use: Early session, mid-session
Time: 5–7 minutes
In partners or small groups (3–4), ask attendees to review the top three points they gained from the session so far and their biggest question so far. Unanswered questions can be posed to presenters.
When to Use: Mid-session and later
Length of Time: 7–10 minutes
Ask attendees to spend 2 minutes writing down parts of the session they would like explained further. Spend 8 minutes explaining those points.
When to Use: Mid-session, end of session
Length of time: 10 minutes
At the end of the session, ask attendees to write down next steps they will take with what they’ve learned at the session. Attendees share with partner or small group.
When to use: End of session
Length of time: 8–10 minutes
Consider dividing your presentation into 10-minute segments. Evidence shows that our attention span today is about 10 minutes. In between those 10-minute chunks, try an exercise or discussion. Keep those activities and discussions short for 2, 3, or even 5 minutes. This will help your audience retain your content.
Tell your audience that you will be using a specific cue or signal to get their attention and let them know that time for the discussion or activity is done. Consider a countdown clock that can be displayed via your slides as another option.