Some would say it’s easy to know if you’re connecting with your audience. They smile, nod their heads, laugh and look intensely interested in what you’re saying. Yes, that’s true. When all those signals are present, you can be pretty sure you’ve got them.

At the same time, I’ve spoken to audiences that don’t all of those things and yet come up to me afterwards and tell me how much they enjoyed my presentation. Every audience is different. Go figure.

The only way we know for sure whether we’re on target is when someone tells us. Missing that, we can interpret body language, and when we think we might be losing our audience, take action.

Here are some suggestions:

1. Some members of your audience look like they don’t have a clue about what you’re talking about. Here’s where you can check in. Perhaps they missed something you said, or didn’t understand it. Take some questions or tell a story to give more context to what you’ve just shared.

2. You sense some impatience in the audience. Perhaps you’re noticing some folks looking around or checking their phones. This might indicate you need to wrap this point up.

3. You see a smattering of audience members whispering to each other or getting really fidgety. Could it be they aren’t interested, maybe even bored? Now’s the time to change something up. Ask everyone to stand and stretch, initiate an activity or ask a provocative question.

4. They aren’t looking at you. Maybe they are looking down. Have you brought up a topic that’s controversial or maybe a little painful? When you see these signs, it could be time to lighten up and move on.

5. You know the signs – frowning, closed body language, loud exhales. These signs could indicate disapproval. Is this your intention? Do you want to shake things up? If you do, fine. If not, take a deep breath and either address it directly with the audience or choose to move on.

It’s important to remember you will likely have at least one person for whom your speech is not relevant. It’s essential to not evaluate your level of engagement based on one person. Rather, take the temperature of the group and use these interventions when needed to get them reengaged!

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