HOW GOOD A LISTENER ARE YOU? Great speakers are also great listeners; engaged, attentive, and responsive. The audience is a powerful element of any presentation. Tune in to the presenter in front of you, show them you’re engaged, and you are instantly supporting them and feeding their performance.
When I ask clients and colleagues what they fear about public speaking, the audience reaction is right up there: What if they don’t like me? What if they get bored? I feel like they’re judging me. I’m not going to keep their attention.
Ask yourself this: When I’m in the audience, how am I responding to the speaker or presenter in front of me?
Just as when we are speaking, our body language, gestures, vocal reactions, and facial expressions are powerful weapons when we are in an audience. Presenters gauge how they are doing by audience reactions. We want to see our audience engaged, eyes on us, smiling, nodding, laughing, cheering, and crying with us.
The next time you are the listener, notice how you are reacting; is your behavior letting the presenter know how they are doing? Do they know if they are losing your attention? Or when they say something that really resonates with you? Let them see your reactions: nod when you agree, frown when they raise a valid critical point, smile when they entertain you.
Speakers want our audience to stay engaged and connected. We want to know that we have reached them. As listeners, we want to be engaged, to enjoy the presentation, to get something out of it. When we are in the audience, we hold a great power in supporting the presenter, helping them feel more confident and powerful, and in turn, we get more out of what they have to say.