4.6 Key ideas about interacting through play

  • More than anything else, audiences love interacting spontaneously with you. They find the feeling of co-creating a unique experience for that presentation exhilarating. This is the magic of live performance.


  • Interact with the adults as well as the younger spectators. You need to give the grown-ups permission to contribute and confidence that you will not embarrass them if they do respond. Also, the adults who attend your programmes will find the behaviour of their children extremely watchable.


  • Being playful is one of the quickest ways to connect with learners of all ages, especially when they don’t have to listen. Play is also the universal language of children. Many of the characteristics of play — enjoyable, voluntary, safe, empowering, creative — are essential ingredients of effective informal learning experiences.


  • Imbue your presentation with lots of potential games for the audience to play with you.  Children adore uncovering these bits of business based on interaction. Discovering and playing these games gives them an empowering sense of spontaneity and co-creation.


  • Cocoon your audience and stage in a play bubble where people feel safe to play.  This space is fragile and precious, so protect it fiercely. Let one unkind or judgemental remark from the crowd go unchallenged and the bubble will burst.


  • Empower them by rolling over occasionally during these games. Children grow up in a world where adults seem to know everything and they know nothing. By deliberately inhibiting your advantages as the presenter, they, for once, get to feel as if they are in control or that they know something an adult doesn’t. This sensation is irresistible to a child.


  • Audience interaction turns up the spotlight on the other engagement tools. It magnifies the impact of your character, the liveness of the situation, the emotional contagion in the audience, and the opportunities for situational humour. But its glare cruelly exposes your flaws, as clearly as it amplifies your strengths, so monitor your interactions for any negative traits they may be leaking.


  • Train your audience how you want them to interact. You can’t expect your learners to know how to contribute unless you guide them. The more effort you put into this training at the start, the richer and more rewarding all their interactions will be for the rest of the presentation.


  • Develop a play bow that nonverbally signals to the audience when you are inviting them to play. For example, exhibiting — spontaneity; high energy; warm eye contact; delight; smiling and laughing; momentarily lowering your status; being mischievous; repeating behaviour patterns.


  • Start with a warm-up routine. This is particularly important with young audiences, as it gets them all responding expressively and energetically together.


  • Be patient with audiences who are slow to respond initially. You can only present interactively with their co-operation. Don’t overpower your group with interaction techniques which require them to take big risks too soon. Instead, gradually build your trust bank.


  • Children find unexpected failures from an adult, funny and empowering. When using this presenter-in-trouble hook, the more mature your audience, the more convincing you need to be in how you mess up.


  • One of the most addictive interaction games you can play with any group of younger children is “look, but don’t see”. This multi-phase game allows them to spot your mistake or an impending peril some time before you appear to realise the problem.


Hook Your Audience (volume 1) Copyright © 2021 by HOOK training limited. All Rights Reserved.

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