Have you ever been giving a speech or presentation, and when you look out at the audience, your gaze falls on a person who seems completely irritated by what you’re saying?
It’s the job of the speaker to engage the audience. But it helps when the audience gives the speaker something to work with. The speaker isn’t operating in a vacuum; it helps to feel that the audience is with her.
When you’re in the audience, check in with your own face and posture. Particularly if you know the speaker can see you, be aware of what messages you are sending. Are you listening, leaning forward, nodding along? Are you scowling in concentration? Are you playing on your phone? Are you sitting with your arms crossed?
I know that everything I’m thinking shows on my face, and when I’m concentrating, my eyebrows pull down. I can look like I really disapprove of whatever’s being said! That’s not the message I want to send. I know that the speaker will do a better job if they see friendly faces, so I work to keep my face open, and I smile.
Being in the audience isn’t free time. We have a job out there, too.