Reading your audience is essential if you want to be a skilled public speaker. Understanding your audience and interpreting their body language can help you gauge your performance. If it seems your audience is disengaged, then you know to liven your presentation. Oppositely, if they are actively listening to your presentation, then you know what works for future presentations.
Developing keen perception skills will help you fine tune your presentations so that every time you step in front of an audience you know exactly what to deliver and how to keep the audience captivated.
Read Your Audience
So how do you do master reading body language? Well there are some key things to pay attention to when delivering a speech or presentation that can tell you a lot about what the audience is thinking. Here are some examples:
- Body language signs of boredom include staring at the ceiling or looking out the window, fidgeting, and repeatedly looking at the time.
- Hostility can manifest itself through body language signals such as crossed arms and crossed legs and a frowning or angry facial expression. Observing audience members pointedly discussing things with a neighbor could also be a sign of hostility. (It is important to note, however, that these body language signals are not always signs of disapproval, that is why it’s important not to make pre-judgments.)
- A neutral audience usually has friendly facial expressions, are sitting upright and are listening. They are not yet sure if they agree with your position. Do not see this group as negative. They are open to hearing you and typically want to learn what you are sharing.
- An interested audience is actively listening to your presentation. They respond by nodding in agreement and smiling. Sometimes, audience members that are leaning forward with their hands clasped can also be a sign of engagement.
Make Your Message Relatable
Measures can be taken to help ensure a positive response, such as tailoring your message to the audience making it more relatable. Reading your audience is an important skill to have but it should come secondary to researching your audience prior to your presentation. Combining these tools will help your further fine tune your public speaking skills making you unstoppable!