• Alexandra Bond Burnett

Are they even listening? How to keep your energy up with audience that doesn't give you anything

Updated: Jul 30, 2019

As plain as the nose on your face... an audience with a dour look can really put your off your game.

We've all been in that meeting. People on their phones, drifting off... resting scowl face shall we call it.

However, if you are presenting to financial, business, or technical people - a sour look on their faces doesn't necessarily mean that they aren't listening to you.

Audience Engagement is Scalable Depending On the Environment

Way back when, I used to sing.

I used to sing in care homes. It was both rewarding and utterly soul destroying. To date I will say it is one of the most difficult audiences to stand up in front of, and the main reason is because engagement is minimal.

When you don't get a reaction, it makes it really hard to keep the energy up during the performance.

"Are they even listening?"

The last ever show I did, I'll never forget.

It was a Christmas gig. Just me, my PA system and an iPod. Not forgetting of course a room lined with the audience for the day.

I started my set... joyfullying starting off with some Frank Sinatra. I notched a gentleman at the bag looking peacefully asleep, arms curled, his eyes shut.

" He doesn't even know I'm here"

As the speaker or entertainer it can be really difficult to keep a high level of energy when you don't get a reaction.

The thing is about a care home audience is that you know to expect a lower reaction. It may be low mobility, hearing issues or dementia. As a performer it vital to understand that the lack of reaction is not a lack of enjoyment, You still need to give it your all.

But then, something magical happened.

The Marilyn Effect

I was on to Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend. As I started to sing I noticed the gentlemen... he wasn't asleep! His toes started tapping, his fingers swaying with the beat.

He'd been listening the whole time.

Don't rely on your audience for an energy boost

If you're speaking to businesses about finances you may experience the same thing. The audience may look switched off...

And that's ok!

Don't let it get you down. An audience may not give you the feedback you need, but it doesn't mean you're not making an impact.

Look for the subtle clues, the head bob, eye contact.. and use those to help you keep the energy through your presentation.

For extra tips on how to keep your audience engaged, keep an eye out for my next blog !