How to check for audience engagement

There are magical times when I speak and I know deep inside I have the audience in the palm of my hand. They are locked-in, listening and hearing my message.

And – sadly – there are times when the exact opposite happens. Yawns, bored faces, restless shifting in chairs, furtive looks at watches. There are the tell-tale blank faces and lack of eye-contact from the audience. But, more importantly, I know it deep inside of me.

If you really tune-in to your audience, you will detect subtle changes in their degree of engagement – long before the changes manifest physically.

So how can you tap into this internal early warning system that measures your connection to your audience?

It all has to do with what I call your gut-o-meter. Your gut-o-meter is your intuition, your subconscious mind. It’s sending you messages all the time. The key is to pay attention to these messages.

Apple founder Steve Jobs once told students at Stanford University “have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”

French scientist Alexis Carrel said “All great men are gifted with intuition. They know, without reasoning or analysis, what they need to know.”

Stop writing; start talking

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Be open minded. Get your conscious mind to focus on your speech and let the subconscious, intuitive mind focus on the audience.

When you follow your intuition, or gut-o-meter, you will invariably get clues as to how you’re doing. You will know if the speech or presentation is working. You can make minor changes that get the audience to re-engage – before they start checking their phones and watches.