I do a LOT of presentations, workshops, keynotes, and informal speeches (usually colleagues and friends ask me to stand up and give the audience a few words of wisdom). I also attend a lot of presentations, sales calls, workshops, etc. And it's funny — lately many presenters have been commenting after the presentation (and some during!), that I was a powerful energizer and helped them with their presentation.
I thought I was just sitting there and listening. I was wrong.
I've been taking notes and have found I exhibit a number of basic behaviors that make me a 'great' audience member. Here they are:
1. I smile.
So simple, yet EVERYONE forgets to do this. Some people smile, some have blank stares and some (and I don't think they realize this) they are frowning, smirking, or looking pretty angry. You're going to hear me talk a lot about energy transferral — and smiling is a simple and easy one to do. So if you remember, try to smile when they are speaking — not an insane, serial killer smile, just a sincere smile.
2. I nod my head.
When the presenter makes a point, I instinctively move my head and agree with them. Sometimes I do it unconciously, sometimes purposefully. In any case, it transfers energy to the speaker and gives them a temperature check of their speaking level.
3. I heartedly applaud at the beginning and the end.
It's hard for some people to stand up and immediately feel comfortable about speaking. A rousing round of applause with their name yelled out gets their blood pumping and immediately engaged. At the end, I'm one of the first slapping my hands together and standing — and getting the rest of the audience up and clapping. It's just the right thing to do.
4. I laugh at their humor.
I range from a small guffaw to a hearty laugh — let it out! When a presenter has a good sense of humor and uses it — the time flies, you enjoy the presentation, and you actually absorb what they're saying. Don't be a sour-puss — no one will like you (trust me on this).
5. I am engaged.
I listen to 'what' they are saying and not what my next appointment might be. I am present and actively engaged with the speaker, audience and topic. Live in the present and you will have a wonderful past and an exciting future.
6. I approach the presenter.
I always arrive early (it's a pleasant defect in my personality, so sue me) — so I always ask if I can help them set up. In addition, I always get the best seat in the house — not only to view the presentation — but the 'power' seat to speak if needed.
After the presentation, I always thank the presenter, mention 1-2 tips they touched upon, and give them positive feedback. Most people don't do this and sometimes the presenter doesn't get a good temp check on how they did.
And here's the PAYOFF . . .
Now step back and think — how can 'being a great audience' help your career or business? What happens if your boss was presenting? Or a valuable client? Or someone on your team? How would this help you? A lot.
I'm not saying to be disingenuous and fake about your emotions to the presenter — but I am stating that you need to let your body language and energy flow to the presenter and audience. If you are just yourself and let your emotions flow, you'll find yourself enjoying other people's presentations more, learning, and having more fun. It's infectious.
And guess what — they will do it for you to when you're presenting!