Engage vs. Interact

Posted by Kristin Arnold on April 13, 2010

Was trolling through the TED talks (great place to view short, insightful and interesting presentations on a variety of topics), when I ran across Tony Robbins ‘ presentation about the invisible forces that drive our behavior.

Tony is known as a hugely engaging and interactive motivational speaker.  But TED limits the presentation to only 18 minutes (he went four minutes over BTW – you don’t see that happen very often!) when he normally consumes 50 hours (his own admission).  In this presentation, he was very engaging for the first five minutes, and then ventured into the interactive space by polling the audience with an intriguing question: “How may of you have failed to achieve something significant in your life?”  After the hands went up in the air, he said, “thanks for the interaction.”

By encouraging a small degree of participation, he tangibly shifted the mood in the room. If you continue to listen to the video – whether you agree with what he said or not – the mood in the room became lighter.  He continued to interact with the audience when they “filled in the blank” to a question.  Robbins came into the audience and hi-fived Al Gore.  He had a bit of spontaneous reparte with the audience – including a bit of laughter. He used an autoresponder asking them to say “Aye!” if they agree.  He used more interactive techniques – not only connecting but conversing with the audience.

Question:  Are you just engaging your audiences or are you engaging AND interacting with your audiences?

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