Learn To Read Your Next Audience Like A Book

by drjim on December 8, 2015

Speakers need to be able to tell what their audience is thinking

Speakers need to be able to tell what their audience is thinking
Image Credit: Pedro Ribeiro Simões

The quality of your next speech will not be determined by the amount of effort that you put into your PowerPoint / Keynote slides. It won’t be determined by your clever use of pauses and hand gestures. Instead, your level of success will depend on how well you are able to connect with your audience. It turns out that it’s not their job to connect with you (although that is what you want to have happen). Instead, due to the importance of public speaking it’s your job to connect with them. Do you know how to do this?

3 Tips For Learning How To Read Your Next Audience

As we give our next speech, we want to be able to understand what our audience is thinking. The better that we understand what is going on in their heads, the more easily we can adjust our speech to meet their needs. In order to connect with our audience and deliver the speech that they deserve, there are three things that we need to learn how to do.

In order to get our audience to wake up and participate in your speech, you need to ask them a question. This will show you that they are following what you are saying. If you ask a question and you don’t get an answer from your audience, then you know that you’ve got trouble on your hands. What you need to do then is to rephrase the question and ask it again.

Next you need to study where your audience’s eyes are going. If they are not looking at you then they are trying to tell you something. Blank expressions or audience members who are staring off into space are always a bad sign. If you see this happening, then it’s a clear sign that as a speaker you need to change the approach that you are currently using. If on the other hand you discover that your audience is making eye contact with you, then you can take that as a form of acceptance for what you are telling them.

Finally, you are going to want to do a good job of making eye contact with your audience. This means that you need to pick a few people out of your audience and make eye contact with them one by one. If you don’t get any reaction from them as you make eye contact with them, then it means that you are not moving them with your words. Your audience’s faces reveal what they are thinking. You want them to have expressions that indicate they they are participating in your speech.

What All Of This Means For You

Speakers need to be able to determine what their audience is thinking while they are giving their speech. The reason that this is so important is because if it turns out that we’re losing our audience to boredom or some other distraction, then one of the benefits of public speaking is that we can adjust how we are giving our speech.

Learning how to read an audience is a critical speaking skill. We can always halt our speech and ask our audience a question. This is a great way to both wake them up and get them involved in the speech. We need to be aware of what our audience is doing with their eyes – are they looking at us? If they aren’t, then we have a problem on our hands. Finally, we need to make eye contact with members of our audience.

Giving a speech is not a one-way path. Every time you deliver a speech, your audience will be telling you what they think of the speech as you deliver it. You need to understand the language that they will be speaking and then you need to take action based on it. Read your audience and deliver the speech that they want to hear.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: If your audience is starting to look board, what action should you take?

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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site www.Toastmasters.org. Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Speaking is hard work. As though it wasn’t hard enough, despite us knowing about the importance of public speaking, there is that pesky issue of speaking anxiety. What’s that you say? It’s when we start to understand that we’re going to be standing in front of a (potentially large) group of people and will be expected to both remember what we want to say and do a good job of delivering our message. When our bodies start to realize what we are planning on doing, that’s when the real fun starts…!

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