A lively audience, ready and eager for discussion, is the greatest boon a conference (or almost any event) can have. While it's easy to ascribe such a blessing to luck, experienced speakers and organizers know that liveliness requires some effort—and opportunity.

Audiences tend to remain passive when all they can do is sit quietly until the end. But given the chance, they will gladly participate and contribute to the event.

Here's what you can do to transform passive listeners to active players.

1) Ask

People today have become conditioned to act as mere spectators during events after spending half their lives sitting in front of a screen. Participation simply never occurs to them at all—until you ask them. Asking participants directly and encouraging them to respond can be effective in getting them out of their shells.

2) Leverage Technology

When you ask the audience, you can’t expect it to respond by shouting. The answer lies in technology, and we're not talking about microphones. Today, more than 40 million Filipinos own smartphones and tablets that readily connect to the Internet. Through these mobile devices, you can get the audience to contribute quickly and easily.

A specialized app is great for such a purpose, but a hashtag on Twitter or Facebook is good enough. With a hashtag, you can run an online poll or simply facilitate questions and comments from the audience. You can then present the activity onscreen. This will not only help you keep track of things so you can respond accordingly, but also allow the participants to see the fruits of their contributions.

3) Engage All the Senses

Events typically engage with sight and sound, leaving the other three senses unused. If the event permits it, find ways to stimulate them. Try passing around objects for your audience to touch, smell, or taste. If that’s not possible, what you can do is go beyond the usual slideshow presentation by engaging the crowd with video clips, music, and other media.

4) Provide Alternatives

There is always another way. Conferences don't have to follow the usual dry, cookie-cutter format. Mix it up! Sprinkle in some games and prizes to get your audience moving. When combined with your talking points, these activities can effectively reinforce your message.

Transforming the audience into an active, dynamic participant won't only make it easier for speakers to deliver their presentations; organizers will also find the event more successful. Get your audience engaged in the earliest opportunity and keep it going until the end.