Participants want to feel like they matter. They want to be seen, heard and loved. However, too many meetings and events are like plays: you have the actors on the stage and everyone else watches passively. It’s like watching TV, as if there’s a glass wall between the stage and audience.
It’s a real shame because it’s long been proven that sitting and listening is the worst way to learn or develop oneself.
The first step to solving this problem is rather simple: make contact with the audience, moderator! Real contact!
So, don’t just talk at them; show them that you value their perspective. Or go a step further: actually talk with them. Participants love it when you ask them questions and when you make use of their knowledge to enrich the conversation.
A good moderator knows how to do this in a smart way, so that everyone feels involved, without putting anyone on the spot. There are lots of ways to do this: votes, body votes, buzzing, shout-outs, and basic moderations. These are all tools we have at our disposal.
Finally, a word about our voting systems and other interaction tools: strictly speaking, using them doesn’t count as interaction; it’s simply transmitting information from the audience to the stage. Only when you make use of the results and start a dialogue does it become interaction.
The danger of these systems is that you will make the participants feel more invisible. By having them communicate in this way, they become a statistic rather than a person. So, always try to use these tools in tandem with human contact.
Jan-Jaap In der Maur