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Engaging your Audience: Successful Techniques for your Workshop

RivkyShimon asked:

Standing in front of a group of people, you might begin to get a little nervous. Nothing throws an audience as much as a nervous speaker. The anxiety in your voice sends a message that you don’t know the material as much as you want people to think you do. It might not be true. But, that’s the way it comes across.

Reducing your anxiety level then is the first step to ensuring a successful workshop. But, how are you supposed to do that? If you are working a big audience, it’s a little more difficult. But, my art workshops are designed to have a small amount of people per class. So, I have a chance to call on people and get them to speak. Knowing members of my audience reduces my nervous tendencies quite a bit.

“How are you today, Jim?” elicits a response from one of the members in my audience. If I don’t know who he is, asking him for his name would be a great first question. But, people tend to breeze through this kind of exchange and then rush into the lesson. What you actually need to do is keep up the informal exchanges throughout the lesson so that you are always keeping your audience engaged. With a smaller audience, it is easier to eventually know all of their names and to get to know personal things about them as well.

With a larger audience, say a motivation speech to a number of over a hundred, you can engage them by asking questions and then pointing to someone for an answer. Make sure the person is looking at you. That will ensure that they were listening to what you just said and they will be more prepared to answer your question. In order to engage an audience, don’t put members on the spot and make them feel ridiculous in front of other audience members. That might work for a teacher in a classroom, but that is not ideal for your cause. Embarrassing an audience member just might turn the whole group against you.

In an art workshop, engaging audience members with questions is what you do throughout your lesson. But, lessons can be as short as five minutes. Talking about a grid technique for understanding spatial relationships is a lesson that takes a short amount of time. The rest of the lesson is practice. But, no matter what type of workshop you are running, you should always have some sort of practice that your audience can do.

Role play is when you engage audience members with a role and a scenario. Such a role would be a happily married, but rather poor individual. A scenario would be that the person is walking down the street and spots a bag full of money. Act out the scenario and discover how the audience member would actually respond in such a situation. Then remember that most people will respond in a group setting the ideal way while in reality, they might respond another way. Don’t question their integrity. Just talk the audience through it. Ask the audience if any of them would be honest enough to admit that they might keep the money.

When preparing an art workshop lesson, allow your class enough time to practice what they have just learned from you. Sometimes, that’s the problem with art in school. Students learn a great deal, but they don’t get nearly as much hands on as they should. Your art workshop should have sufficient hands on built into it. Always encourage your students to allow for mistakes. Not that you want them to make mistakes. You want them to learn how to be great artists. But without making mistakes, they will never get there. That’s quite an engaging message within itself. When your students are capable of relaxing and allowing themselves to make mistakes, they will be very engaged in the lesson and in doing the exercises.

My training materials help you understand the art concepts and they demonstrate how to engage an audience. I actually demonstrate with a class full of students. If you want to learn how to engage your audience and keep their attention, my training materials are packed full of information.

When you feel yourself getting nervous, the only way to beat it is to engage your audience. When you know they are involved and participating, you begin to relax. It’s when you walk into a room and all you hear are crickets that your nervousness gets the best of you. Take a few deep breaths, look at your audience and realize that they are human. Then start talking to them like it. You’ll become a pro in no time.

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