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Audience Participation

Designing and managing audience participation.

Instead of questions from the floor, you can invite someone to give a response to the speaker, or 'interview' the speaker and ask the questions that need to be asked.

Another way to follow up from a speaker is to break people up into small groups for discussion. It is less attractive for disruptive people because it doesn't give them so much attention. Also it is harder or impossible for them to hijack all these small groups. It also allows more thoughtful and calm people to participate. Often the most thoughtful people won't bother to fight to speak when situations get hot.

Alternatively, you could break people into small groups and have them write questions for the speaker. A small group can have a normalising effect on one or two hot-headed individuals, and can neutralise excess emotion and aggression.

Another technique is to distribute notepapers at the beginning to the audience, perhaps at the door as they come in. Ask people to write down their questions for the speaker rather than letting them have the floor. After the talk is finished the speaker can select questions, read them out, and answer them. This prevents shouting and speech-making from the audience.