Security Awareness Blog

Security Awareness Presenting Tip #10 - Ask Them Questions

This is presenting tip #10, the last in a series of my lessons learned and mistakes made presenting over the past years. To have an effective security awareness presentation you need to engage and interact with your audience. If they are simply sitting and passively listening, you will have little impact. You need people asking questions, sharing stories and interacting not with just you but each other. Sometimes you get lucky and this is not a problem, in that case you just let things run on their own and enjoy the ride. But in most cases creating an interactive group can be a challenge, including some cultures in the middle-east or asia. The trick I learned (a tip I got from an Emirate friend while teaching in Dubai) was to ask your audience questions. To be honest you do not so much care what their answers are as you do care about getting them talking. Once you break that initial ice your group will warm up. The challenge becomes then, what questions do you ask? To be honest, it is pretty simple, ask them about things they see or interact with in their daily lives.

A classic example is phishing. When I start talking about phishing I pull up a slide of a common phishing email (as you see here) and ask if anyone has seen an email like this before. Of course they have, everyone has seen emails like this at some point. This is a loaded question. But what is great is you can almost always get one person to raise their hand and respond, explaining the email they got and what they did with it. Then another responds, often about how a family member got an email like this and fell victim. Then you can survey your audience, asking how many people have seen an email like this, or how many people have family that have fallen victim. Once you break that initial ice, your audience becomes far more interactive. For me the ultimate goal is when the audience is no longer just interacting with you, but interacting with each other, sharing stories. Keep in mind, you want to use this trick at the beginning of your presentation or whenever you start losing your audience. The sooner you get them interactive, the greater the impact you can have with your audience.