October 21, 2020

How To Create Engagement with A Virtual Audience

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How To Create Engagement with A Virtual Audience

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Do you ever feel like you’re talking to an empty room when you present virtually? You’re not alone, many speakers have found the transition from in person speaking to virtual stages a bit rocky, not anticipating the lack of audience engagement.

But is it really possible to get virtual engagement or should you have to just accept the lackluster zoom stares?

In this episode, I’ll show you that it is totally possible and teach you how to drive engagement from your virtual platform. 

Episode Show Notes:

I often hear from aspiring speakers that they “thrive of off live engagement”, this made the transition pretty jarring when it came to transitioning to virtual. 

Ultimately, you should never rely on your audience as your source of energy.

So it starts with ensuring that you cut ties with that above narrative, and replace it with “I BRING MY OWN ENERGY”.

As Brendon Burchard often says, a power plant has to GENERATE its own energy. So do you.

But even if you bring that infectious energy, what happens if people still aren’t paying attention?

There could be a variety of reasons for this ranging from… delivery skills not quite as engaging as you thought they were (ouch, sorry!) or it could have nothing to do with you! We live in a very distracted world right now and when it comes to virtual events, people have access to SO MANY other things.

So while sure, one would hope to get your audience to hang on to every single world, but that’s also highly unlikely.

Your best bet is to pull them INTO the presentation through strategic engagement. Here’s some tips to help you do so:

Engagement Tip #1: To create engagement, you have to give engagement.

(08:38) When it comes to engaging with an audience, the role that you play is to speak to people through a camera. Find your camera and start looking into it. Start practicing what it sounds like for you to talk into a camera, knowing that you can’t see their eyes but you are giving them the gift of eye contact. 

When you can start moving and getting comfortable of seeing the lens of that camera and imagining you are making eye contact with someone, holy crap, things start changing. 

Rule of thumb when it comes to eye contact

(10:30) You want to maintain eye contact about 70% of the time. Your goal isn’t a 100% camera lens eye contact the whole time, but I want you to be confident and strong and maintain that eye contact when appropriate. 

Majority of the time you’re going to hold eye contact with that camera lens because if you’re not demonstrating to your audience that you are fully present, how can you expect them to do the same or even give you a fraction of that you have to maintain that presence first. 

Engagement Tip #2: Create a pre-talk ritual.

(14:27) If you want to show up with energy, focused, excited and present in an inspirational way, you need to create space before you go live or hit record that allows for that so you need to build a pre-talk ritual, pre-recording ritual, pre-live ritual, whatever your stage is.

Carve out. It could be a 1-min, 5-min, or a 30-min ritual. I wouldn’t put a time like barrier around it but you need to create something for yourself to create space, get in the right mindset, to jump on and have the right intention on that. That’s the only way you’re going to fundamentally bring good engagement from yourself so you can get that from your audience. 

Engagement Tip #3: Speak to ONE person.

(16:50) If somebody is delivering a message, and you’re hearing them say it, but they’re talking about a big group of people, it is much easier for you to detach from the message. It is much easier for you to detach from a message because it’s a mass message. It’s for a lot of people. Sure, you can choose to find the meaning in the message but when it is a message to the masses, it’s easier for the audience to make the choice to detach or not. You’re putting a lot of work on them. 

I know you’re here to make an impact. You have a message that you know can help people. This is how you start making an impact one person, one connection at a time. This is how you really anchor in and start driving engagement. Speak to one person. 

Engagement Tip #4: Make the stage your playground

(20:46) Turn the dial in your voice, in your body language, in your examples, in your personality. Bring more of you to the stage.

You have to have fun and make the stage your playground because if you’re excited and having fun with the topic, you’re showing your audience that this too can be fun… I know it’s easier said than done, especially if you’re newer to speaking and it really freaks you out but trust it will get over time. 

Engagement Tip #5: Ask better questions

(23:57) When you’re on stage, ask better questions and you will get better levels of engagement, better quality answers, better level responses, higher percentage responses. 

Your questions have to be designed for engagement. You should never walk into a talk without a list of questions prepared and unsure of how people will answer questions. 

Questions you can ask during your live engagement

  • Closed-ended questions – Give them a rank, give them a scale, a multiple choice type of answers, or an instant identifier


  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how confident are you showing up right now on a camera? 
  • Would you rather A: listen to a podcast or B: watch a video on YouTube?
  • Give me a heart or a thumbs-up emoji.
  • Raise your hand if you’re trying to get better at video. 
  • Type ‘Hell, yes!’ in the chat.

All of these are easy, no-brainer engagement things.

  • Open-ended questions –  Make it easy for your audience to participate. Don’t make them overthink. Make them think in the right areas. You want your questions to be easier answered.

Do not leave your Qs to chance. Test it!

(29:49) Ask the question you’re thinking to four other people. It could be three, five people, but more than one or two. If they can’t answer it instantly, your question is overly complex. You need to simplify.

To view the full transcript, click right here.

Previous Episodes Mentioned:

How To Be More Authentic with Your Communication – Ep #01 

Books Mentioned:

The Power of Body Language: How to Succeed in Every Business and Social Encounter, Tonya Reiman

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