I have a confession to make. Very seldom do I engage with speakers. I go to a lot of different conferences, service club meetings, Church and business networking events. Most of the time I am far, far away and would not know it if the speaker yelled “FIRE!!” I end up having an “urgent” need to look something up on my phone, check my emails or count the number of ceiling tiles.
On the other hand, there is a speaker I hear on a regular basis and always listen to. Simply, he always has a nugget for me. Something I need to know or give more consideration to. I am personally engaged.
The question and answer period always gives it away
This speaker always has vibrant Q&A sessions. The questions are always well thought out and the answers are thought provoking. The opposite would be questions that sound canned and obligatory. People are making up a couple of questions because they know that no one in the audience was engaged. They feel like they have to cover for the lack of engagement.
I know of a speaker who gives presentations all of the time. Recently he had an attendee say something very interesting about his presentation. He said, “You spoke about five concepts. Every person in the audience has a personal example/story about each one of the concepts.” Think on that for a moment. Why would people not engage with a presentation which speaks to them at a personal level?
The topic itself must have importance in the listener’s world
Let’s apply this concept to employee engagement. Why would someone engage when the message is not important to them personally? Sure, the message will always be important to the organization. But there are many times when the organization has done nothing to show why an employee should care at a personal level. Many engagement activities are long on talk and ridiculously short on connecting with the employee at a personal level. Many times I know of ways to make the connection; but, it was not spelled out. Therefore, the connection was never made to the typical employee.
You can also cut off any connection. There was a time when a CEO was giving a talk about engagement. He used the word “integrity”. When he did, every employee rolled their eyes. This was a major source of disengagement which had been discussed before. The organization had done nothing to resolve the issues. Not surprisingly, the engagement project was dead on arrival.