Imagine presenting your latest project update, sales pitch, product launch or board paper, all seems to be going well until you take a moment to look around the room, to your horror you notice that half the room seem to be preoccupied with anything but you! Time to cut it short, change careers or dig a hole and get in it?
Conventional wisdom teaches us to watch for non-verbal cues to assess the level of audience engagement, folded arms, closed eyes, gazing out of the window, yawning, doodling etc. are all signs of disengagement that when detected we should react to by changing the energy of the room, ask some questions or move to a quick close.
Now hang on there a minute.. people yawn for many reasons (or none at all), others take their inspiration from a big blue sky or the bustle of humanity, we sometimes fold our arms because its comfortable, some will close their eyes to focus on a thought and others still will sketch out ideas and models as they come to mind.
If you present to an audience greater that one it is worth remembering that everyone is different. The way we receive, digest and respond to information and the way in which we connect to others is unique.
Your presentation maybe music to my ears, the best idea I have heard all year and the quarterly results our business has longed for but hey, if I have been up all night with my six week old baby you might forgive me for the odd yawn.
So unless you get booed off, have paper balls thrown at you or your whole audience walk out, stay positive and believe in your message.
Only post presentation feedback will tell you how your audience really feel.