Reading the audience – are you sending them to sleep?
Presentation training has a lot to answer for. To help you overcome nerves, they teach you to focus on one person in the room who is smiling at you. The problem is that this can lull you in to a sense of false security. You may just have missed the fact that you are sending them all to sleep.
Here are the twelve tell tale signs that the audience is not listening.
- start to look down
- touch or rub their face, hands or hair
- eyes glaze over and look at the screen (this is easy to mistake as sitting listening intently)
- yawn (often with a hand covering their mouth)
- flick through their notes of the conference catalogue
- make copious notes or jot down things they have forgotten to do (this can be mistaken for jotting down key points)
- sigh heavily
- lie back in their chair and cross their arms
- scan across the room
- whisper to each other quietly
- tap their feet
Please note that out of politeness the audience may clap at the end of your speech (although not for long) and if you see people afterwards they may say well done.
How to spot if the audience is listening
On the other hand if they like what you are saying the audience will;
- Sit intently listening to your speech
- Flick their eyes briefly between the audience and the speaker
Many presentations are boring because the presenter does not take his or her audience with them. Presenting is a performance whether we like it or not. You are on a stage and have an audience critiquing you from the moment you walk on, not the moment you open your mouth. This is why people need help to use their voice and body to best effect.
And who better to show them than an actor who has spent years learning to make the most of voice and body and finding ways to calm nerves and engage with audiences. Bring them into your presentation training and watch your presenters shine.