When we think of a presentation -- whether a formal one on a stage with slides and a microphone or an informal one around a boardroom table -- we think of the presenter 'giving' and the audience 'getting'. The presenter gives her wisdom, experience, data, opinions, recommendations and the audience gets precisely those elements.
But savvy audiences know it's not a one-way street.
Presenters feed off the energy and attention of their audience. In fact, in a recent blog post, Seth Godin says, "The listener has almost as big a responsibility as the speaker does..."
If an audience is listening attentively, a presenter becomes a little more precise, adding an extra example or illustration to help the audience see the relevance. If an audience responds when a presenter asks a question, that presenter will ask additional questions, involving the audience more and generating interesting dialogue. If an audience smiles at the presenter when hearing a funny story or amusing anecdote, the presenter will work to incorporate more stories and anecdotes, making the presentation more engaging and memorable. If an audience makes eye contact with a presenter, the presenter will make eye contact back and a connection is forged.
When an audience is actively engaged and connected with the presenter, through facial expressions, body language and verbal responses, the presenter will work harder to please that audience and make sure the content provides value and relevance.
So the next time you're sitting in the audience of a presentation, don't view the situation as a one-way street. Remember...the better you give, the better you get.
flickr/e_monk C.C. 2.0