How to make people feel engaged - lessons from employee engagement

Emily Bartlett Feb 2, 2022 3:18:53 PM


When somebody engages you, what do you actually feel? It can be difficult to describe, but the employee engagement field can help. Learn to trigger these 4 feelings to become a more generous, inspiring speaker.

Lessons from the office



Google the word engagement and you get lots of stuff about employees. Employee engagement is an enormous industry, because people who feel they do important work for a good reason do it with gusto.

Engaged organisations have strong and authentic values, with clear evidence of trust and fairness based on mutual respect, where two way promises and commitments – between employers and staff – are understood, and are fulfilled.

That quote comes from a 2009 employee engagement report for the UK government.

Take away the employment stuff and it's a pretty good definition of engagement – whatever the context. It tells us loads about what engaged people feel.

4 Feelings engaged people experience

'Engaged' is a compound feeling. It's the sum of powerful parts. Much like the Marvel Avengers, or noughties supergroup The Raconteurs.

So how do we feel when we feel engaged? Our definition suggests these 4 feelings.

1) Respected


Sega. Remember them? For years, Sega pumped out below-par games because they cared more about their schedule than quality. CEO Naoki Satomi has admitted that was a huge mistake.

We did our best to build a relationship of mutual trust with older fans of Sega but, looking back, there've been some titles that have partially betrayed that in the past 10 years.

This lack of respect for loyal customers was costly. The famous blue hedgehog sold 6 million copies of 1992's Sonic 2, but just 490,000 of his 2014 outing.

Refine and prepare your material with the care and attention your audience deserves. Be generous, be the best possible version of you – every time.

2) Heard


A friend of mine is a lodger in a family home. There are 2 school-age girls in the family. The other lodger in the house is a trainee teacher.

Around the dinner table one evening, we asked the girls, 'Why do you like some teachers but not others? What makes a 'good' teacher?' Their response...

The good ones ask and listen to what we think.

Encourage, embrace and enjoy audience participation. Conversations are more engaging than broadcasts.

3) Well-led


What's the point of public speaking? I think it's to lead and empower others. We share ideas because we know they change lives. How do we know? Because they've changed ours.

At 25, I was in the audience of my first professional speaker, Bob Bales. His presentation got my attention. I had never seen anyone having so much fun 'at work' and getting paid for it! – Zig Ziglar

Confidence comes from an unshakeable belief that your message is true and inspiring. Confidence gives you the permission to have fun while you present your ideas.

Show all of your commitment, confidence and enthusiasm to the audience. Have the courage of your convictions.

4) Valued


I wrote about making people feel valuable in a previous blog post. People like it when we boost their self-esteem. When we say, 'You're OK. What you're doing is good.'

I got a lot of support from my parents. That's the one thing I always appreciated. They didn't tell me I was being stupid; they told me I was being funny. – Jim Carrey

A boss passes on glowing praise from a happy client. A teacher gives a gold star and sets a harder challenge because she believes in the child's potential.

What can a presenter do? Thank people for coming, thank them for listening, thank them for their questions, encourage them to connect with you.

Recognise and reward your audience's contribution. Remind them of the important role they play in your life and the lives of others.

What do you think engagement is? Let's talk below the line or on Twitter.