Learn the Surprising Value of Worksheets
One of my favorite ways to increase participation and interest in my talks is including worksheets. My worksheets are always basic and make the audience feel super smart. You want to get your audience involved during your talk for three reasons:
1. It keeps them engaged
2. It increases the chances of them absorbing what you’re saying
3. It increases the chances of them taking action when they leave because they’ve already built their plan
Worksheets that remind your audience of coloring books when they were a kid create interest instead of dread. Why put them through something boring and confusing when you can make it fun and easy? Here are a few tips for creating useful worksheets that your audience actually wants to use.
1. Ask thoughtful questions to get them thinking about their own life
Asking a question like, “How is this true for you?” helps them put themselves into your talk and creates a frame of reference for them. Share a few examples of your own before you ask them to write. For example, if you were talking about leadership strategies and you were specifically focused on inclusion, you could tell a few stories about a time when someone was excluded and a time someone was included. Then, you would ask your audience to fill in the answer to question #1: “How is this true for you?” This is a great way to start a conversation, because you’ve given everyone a chance to think about it and formulate a personal experience they can share. Everyone has it written in front of them and will be much more likely to raise their hand after being given a chance to reflect.
2. Use fun shapes
Instead of asking your audience to fill in their answers or ideas on a blank line, instead, create a large shape they can fill in. For example, I do an exercise called “Star Power” where I ask the audience to write down what they excel at. Instead of writing it in list format, they fill in a large blank star. It is more fun to look at and gives them freedom to write big or small and in whatever way they’d like. You can also use circles, triangles, outlines of cars, trees, cats, hamburgers, anything! Make it visually interesting and easy to approach and your audience will be much more excited to participate.
3. Do “fill in the blank” exercises
Write entire sentences on your worksheet, but leave the keyword out. This means when you arrive at that part of the worksheet, you can prompt your audience to pay attention to that line of text. When you say that sentence, they have to listen (and write in) the keyword. This means they will be on the edge of their seat waiting for the keywords. It’s a fun way to get them to tune into your key takeaways and make them feel like they are part of the presentation. You can also randomly pick someone you see writing to recite the sentence back to the group. This increases the likelihood of everyone hearing it and writing it down, if they didn’t already.
4. Give them a chance to practice
Once you are done with your talk, create an opportunity for your audience to try what they just learned. Create a short exercise they can fill in and then have them work in partners or small groups to discuss what they wrote. This is another amazing way to help them retain what they heard, because they are experiencing your content right away. For example, if you are teaching leadership principles, you can ask everyone to choose their favorite one from your talk and create a plan to test it out. Then have them talk to the person sitting next to them about their plan and get feedback.
Worksheets are amazing and so under-utilized compared to PowerPoints. Rather than bore your audience with another long slideshow, consider ditching that element of the presentation in favor of the interactive worksheet.
In our final lesson, we’re going to talk about how important it is to find your personal presentation style. Last but definitely not least, this element of your talk is critical for creating a lasting connection between you and the people in your audience.
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