Have you ever noticed how some of the best motivational speakers seem to have trouble completing a thought?

It’s not that they don’t know what to say, but I’m referring to the way some will leave a sentence hanging in anticipation of the audience completing it: For example, a speaker might say, “ You’ve got to be hungry like a _______” (He pauses and the audience finishes his thought by chiming in, “wolf!”).

Audience participation in a live presentation not only keeps the listeners engaged and feeds the energy level in the room. It has also been proven to greatly improve retention.

Another easy way to encourage audience participation is to ask questions, and ask for a show of hands. Questions not only stimulate mental alertness, but the physical movement of the raising of hands boost’s the group’s energy. Internationally acclaimed speaker, Les Brown asks for a show of hands throughout his presentations, and the feeling in the audience is that you are actively engaging in conversation with Les.

How do you create that feeling of connection when a camera lens seems to distance your audience from you?

First, I invite you to realize that speaking to a camera, or appearing on TV can be a much more intimate experience for an audience, for two reasons:

1. They literally are looking at you more closely. Nothing like a close-up in HD to send you back to the makeup table! But seriously, TV is perceived to be a more natural conversational distance to the viewer than a speaker on a platform.

2. Empathy is easier when subtle expressions can be seen. If you are looking into the lens and speaking to your audience with sincerity they can feel as though you are speaking only to them. It can be powerful.

Connection, ok, but “audience participation”? There’s no way to accomplish that with TV or Video viewers, right?


As a host, guest expert, or star of your website video or DVD course you have a “call to action” or something that you want your audience to think about, or do. It may to pick up the phone and donate, to buy your book, or start investing in real estate. The action that you successfully move them to is audience participation! You want to influence them to change something in their life.

Your ability to influence others through your appearance on their TV or computer screen is directly related to three things:

1. Your energy level. Keep it high! This is so crucial. I cannot emphasis it enough. It is the most common problem I see as a media trainer.

2. Entertainment value. Find the humor. You certainly don’t need to do a stand up routine; in fact, jokes can be risky, but people love to laugh. Tip: If your subject is a serious one, search to find the lightness in your story somehow; it creates a comfort level so that your message can get through and affect your audience.

3. Give them what they want. Don’t forget, human nature is to always evaluate a message by asking, “what’s in it for me?” Let them know how you can make their life better, and let them know quickly! In a web video, for instance, you have less than 7 seconds to engage a visitor or they will click off, and be forever lost!

With the proper message, skilled delivery and appropriate marketing, your message can literally affect millions through a camera lens. You may not be able to see the show of hands, or hear the viewers voice right away, but you can change people’s lives through your story. You can move your audience to make a change for the better, and that is the best audience participation you can ask for!

Author's Bio: 

Sandra Dee Robinson has spent all of her adult life in front of a camera: initially an actor (including major roles on Another World, Sunset Beach, Bold and the Beautiful, General Hospital, Days of Our Lives, guest star on Two and a Half Men, Criminal Minds, Secret Life of an American Teenager and TV movies). She sidelines acting with TV hosting and being a product spokesperson. For the past several years, Sandra has been coaching entertainment reporters and television hosts and she founded Charisma on Camera media training studio to expand her clientele to professionals in any field. She currently assists authors, life coaches, politicians, actors, and business professionals who want to build confidence in the telling of their message and/or they are preparing to utilize TV or Web as a platform to establish themselves as an expert guest, or even host their own show. Sandra loves finding the unique quality in each individual that can magnetize an audience, and watching her clients’ confidence on camera soar as they polish their personal brand for increased recognition and success.