Asking the audience questions is a good way of increasing their involvement in the presentation. When you ask them to raise the hands, raise your hand at the same time. It encourages people to do the same.
Usually you will gain a lower response to the first question than is actually the true representation of the audience. This is because people are a bit shy or nervous of putting their hand up. They may be worried that by putting their hand up you may pick on them and ask further questions that they would rather not have to answer.
By the time you get to the third or fourth question and people have realised nothing bad is going to happen if they put their hand up, you will get a far more representative sample.
When you wish to conduct some audience research, and you are really interested in the answers that are being given, it is wise to ask a couple of dummy questions to get people started.
Asking questions and making the presentation more interactive is usually a good thing to do in a presentation, it makes it seem more personal and more spontaneous and hence more enjopyable for the audience. Although, asking open questions that require a verbal response is much harder with a larger audience. One word of warning, never ask a question, the answer to which you are not equipped to answer.
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