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Your view – what does it mean to be engaging?

At Sparkol, we're all about helping people to engage their audience. But what does that mean? And how can you tell if your content is engaging enough? We spoke to five successful scribers from training, video production and design to find out what successful engagement looks like to them.

When I write a blog post, I have a clear idea of what I want it to be – stimulating, memorable, engaging. But how to actually achieve that is rather more complicated. We're grateful to these VideoScribe users for sharing their tips on what engagement means.

 

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BruceGraham

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Bruce Graham, Instructional Designer, pperf.co.uk

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HeatherMartinez

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Heather Martinez, Visual Practitioner, heathermartinez.com

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MargeBieler

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Marge Bieler, CEO and Founder, rareagent.com

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RussellAnderson-Williams

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Russell Anderson-Williams, Presentation Designer and Trainer, theprezenter.com

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TomLaBaff

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Tom LaBaff, Illustrator, tomlabaff.com

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What does 'engaging' mean to you?

Bruce: It's when we don't have to fight to keep our audience’s attention. It is relevant to them personally, or to their business activities, and they receive some sort of benefit from immersing themselves in the visuals and the message. 

Heather: It means keeping focused and committing attention.

Marge: Drawing in a person with interesting content or conversation. Sparkly and fun.

Russell: Engaging means that those you are presenting to (whether in person or online) are 100% focused on your visuals, your message, and more importantly on you. 

Tom: To me, engaging means to entertain. I try to be aware of this whether I’m talking one on one with my daughter, or if I’m presenting something to a packed theater.

What does engaging content look like?

Bruce: Engaging content makes people focus – so usually it is different from the content that precedes it or comes after it. Engaging content can sometimes make people stop and go back to watch it again.

Heather: Engaging content is visually stimulating. It holds interest through transitions or leading the viewer to an unexpected place.

Marge: Colorful, interesting, artful and intriguing. 

Russell: Engaging content will look different for every presentation because every message or story that’s told is going to be different. Engaging content should not distract the audience at all. Keep it simple, and link your visuals to the words you're using. 

Tom: I evaluate engaging content by how much I’m relating to the characters in the story. In a 30 second commercial or a 90 minute foreign film I gravitate toward characters who are faced with simple issues and how they solve the problem. Like trying to find a parking space. It could be humorous, dramatic, angry, passive, ridiculous. I’ve done all the above.

How do you know when your audience is successfully engaged?

Bruce: They can remember it, or better still – there is an observable action based on the message that you're communicating. 

Heather: I know the viewer is successfully engaged when they recall the content, or better yet, request their own scribe video for their idea, message, or project. 

Russell: If you’re presenting to a live audience it will be very obvious. No one will be checking their mobile phones under the desk for a start! Asking them questions and involving them in the presentation is a sure way to make sure they are engaged. Don’t just present – get your audience involved.

Marge: When they spend time on content or share that they found our content engaging. Also, sharing our content with others. 

Tom: I know I’ve hooked my audience when they say they want to see what I do next.

Do you have a tip or trick for engaging your audience?

Marge: Have fun and keep it real. 

Bruce: I often use humour or the unexpected. I like to use disembodied speech bubbles that pose awkward questions or say something related to the subject (but completely ridiculous) – but which everyone has probably heard or seen! These then act as a springboard for the emotional resolution. 

Heather: I like to keep my scribe videos under one minute long. Make the information clear, succinct, and have no more than three main ideas to share.

Russell: Practice, practice, practice. A sure way to lose people's interest at the start of a presentation is to not know your content and look unconfident. My biggest tip is to present in a non-linear way. Most presentations don’t need a start and end point. Let your audience decide what you talk about first, and let them drive the flow of the presentation. 

Tom: One of my tricks to engage a captive audience is to... whisper. No seriously, I like to show my protagonist in some kind of moral or ethical dilemma as soon as possible.

What do you think? Do you have a special technique for engaging your audience? Please join us on Twitter to continue the conversation.

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