Reading Your Audience’s Body Language

Just like how your audience read your gestures and body language, you should also know how to anticipate and read theirs. Observing their movement and knowing how to assess their level of attention can help you understand what tone or topic you should share to further engage with your audience. As mentioned in our previous article, you should be versatile with your style. Observe the room—do they showing any interest with what you are saying? Are they responding negatively? The key here is to keep them involved from the very beginning of your speech throughout the end.

Another challenge that you may face is when the audience are made up of individuals, who may not necessarily share the same interests, attention span, or boredom threshold. Keep in mind that there are different people in the room. Some may agree to you and some may have negative reactions. You should be able to read these gestures.

Take note also that the audience usually think of themselves. They rather be heard than listen to your speech. So get them involved with the topic. You should be able to connect with them. You might notice several body language signals when delivering a speech. So, just to help you understand these gestures, here’s a quick round-up prepared by our team:

– Disapproval
– Hostility
– Openness
– Lack of interest
– Neutrality
– Boredom

The audience may show signs of disapproval or hostility in several ways. One of the most obvious gestures is when the room is filled with different discussions. Another negative gesture is when you see others looking at the ceiling or out of a window, or even frowning at you.

Showing a negative posture is also a signal where you should try to do something. You may notice this when you see a group or an individual showing hostile expressions, with arms folded as if he or she wants to form a barrier and legs crossed with the person leaning back. This suggests resistance to the speaker or presenter. But it is your job to stay calm and yes, avoid making judgements based on what you observed inside the room.

You should be neutral when this happens. Keep an open attitude by slightly making friendly facial expressions and an upright or slightly forward-leaning seating position. Take note that these people have not yet fully decided whether or not they agree with your ideas or your messages. This is why you may observe combination of gentle nods and shakes of their heads as you go on to your strong points.

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