How to Gauge Audience Reaction to a Presentation

June 30, 2016
mkamel@psav.com

group-presentation
Measuring the results of your presentation can be difficult. While the overall success of your event may yield positive results, how do you really know how well your presentation was received? Knowing how to gauge audience reaction to a presentation is beneficial in helping you adjust yourself as you go along during the actual presentation, as well as helping you prepare better for the next one.

body-language

Body Language

We are social beings who communicate a large part of our feelings through non-verbal means. A good presenter is able to read their audience’s non-verbal cues and pick up on how their content is being received and understood. Body language is great at indicating boredom or interest to you.

Obvious signs such as yawns and people pulling out their phones are easy to spot, but things like arms crossed over their chest, tapping fingers or feet, constantly shuffling around in their seats, jiggling their foot up and down, and resting their head in their palm are signs that you should look out for if you feel like your audience might be getting bored.

On the flip side, signs of interest include, nodding their head in agreement, taking notes, maintaining strong eye contact and laughter. These signs generally mean your audience is enjoying your presentation and is interested in your content.

Engagement

It can be difficult to discern whether or not the material you are presenting is actually being absorbed and understood by your audience. They may all be taking notes and nodding along, but are they actually engaging with the content? Open up the floor for discussion, and not just at the end of the presentation but during it as well. It’ll give a nice break to everyone, and provide more engagement from your audience.

Everyone has something to share and something new to learn, so encouraging engagement in this way is a great method of retaining their attention, having participation occur, and gauging their reaction to the content you’ve presented so far. Mediate the discussion, and be sure to step in from time to time to ensure everyone stays on course.

Another great way to ensure your audience stays engaged is to use mixed media throughout your presentation. Lights, visual components, and sound are all ways to retain engagement and ensure your crowd doesn’t doze off.

Deliverance

A room full of people who understand what you are talking about, and who can follow along will be mostly quiet, still and focused. If you are using terms that are complicated, speaking at a fast pace, or not loud enough, you will notice the audience’s shift in behaviour. The noise levels will increase, brows will become furrowed, and people will turn to each other, asking “what did she say?” or “what does that mean?” If you see this happening, slow down, and begin to ask questions.

A way for you to gain a sense of your audience’s reaction is by simply asking mid-presentation if they are following along. You can say something like “does this make sense to everyone so far?” and encourage questions. It’s human nature to be uncomfortable or shy to ask questions, so if you encourage questions; they may feel more open to it. Clarifying as you go through your presentation helps them understand better, retains their attention, and encourages participation and engagement.

It’s not always easy gauging an audience’s reaction to a presentation, and understanding subtle clues and cues will go a long way in making your event memorable. Contact us for more information.