Read your Audience

Last Updated on Thursday, 30 July 2015 12:53 Written by Pam Chambers Friday, 9 March 2012 02:58

In my presentation class, one of the exercises is designed to help students adjust their approach by reading their audience. For example, a student steps out of the room and we secretly plan that someone in the audience will begin to rummage through her papers and belongings. The student returns to the room, begins to speak to the group, and is supposed to be attentive enough to “read the audience,” spot the distraction, and effectively and diplomatically put an end to the distracting behavior.

Keep in mind that there are only about 12 people in the room, so it shouldn’t be difficult to read the audience. Often, when the speaking time is up, and I ask, “What distracting behavior did you notice?” the student will say, “I didn’t notice anything!” The rest of us are surprised, because the rummaging was certainly obvious to US!

The fact is, many of us are so SELF-conscious that we forget to be OTHER-conscious. But we need to be, because we are required — not only to deliver our message — but to control the environment for the sake of others.

Read your audience. Are they not quite settled yet? Do they need a break? Have you said something confusing? Are they feeling uneasy? After you read your audience, you should say what you see. “I see that you need a break.” “I see that I was confusing. Let me say that another way.”

Read your audience, and they will feel cared for and respected.

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