You’re trucking along in your speech, performing with verve and passion, and look out to the crowd…
…only to see face after face that looks completely unresponsive.
Hell, you think. They hate this. I’m losing them.
And, you know what? Maybe you are. But here’s the thing. This is my face when I’m listening attentively.
And this is my face when I’m skeptical.
And this is my face when I just don’t care about what you’re saying — when you’ve genuinely lost me as a listener.
What you’re looking at is the face of a passive listener.
I’m not overwhelmed with emotion, and you aren’t moving me to tears or laughter. But I may well be completely rapt and taking it all in.
Call it Resting Audience Face.
Resting Audience Face doesn’t look warm or inviting — but that doesn’t mean I’m feeling hostile or bored. This is just the human face in a state of relaxation. And you can’t tell from it whether I’m really engaged or not.
What you can tell is that I’m not actively disengaging… and that’s good news.
Resting Audience Face is just one of the misleading cues that may make you think you’re losing the audience, when actually they’re all ears.
Someone whispering to someone else? Yes, they might be talking about something unrelated to your talk, or complaining about it.
But maybe something you said struck something in them that they felt like sharing with their neighbour.
And that audience member over there typing on their phone or tablet? Sure, they could be catching up on email. But they may be taking notes, or live-tweeting.
So don’t be thrown by Resting Audience Face. There’s only one face to really worry about, and it’s this one: