April 7, 2007

What kind of audience member are you?

We talk a lot here about how to be a good speaker and give your audience what they need. But has it ever occurred to you that there are "good" audience members and "bad" audience members?

Seth Godin talks about the skills needed for being a good audience member: eye contact, leaning forward, showing interest. Audience members who exhibit these and other "good" behaviors actually get more from the speaker in terms of energy, attention, and insight. We don't spend much time focusing on the people who appear to be bored or distracted.

Keep in mind, however, that people have different ways of learning, and it's not always possible to know if someone is truly distracted or if they just learn better while writing because their learning style is kinesthetic. It's a good idea to give the audience members the benefit of the doubt and assume they're listening and learning, but in their own way.

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