Reading the audience – are you sending them to sleep?

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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 false sense of security. You may just have missed the fact that you are sending them all to sleep.

Here are the twelve telltale signs that the audience is not listening.

They –

  • 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)
  • fidget
  • 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

 Getting Sleepy
Asleep in a presentation

Death by PowerPoint

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
  • smile
  • flick their eyes briefly between the audience and the speaker

Published On: 30th Sep 2012

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