Sunday, October 23, 2011

Be a Good Audience

So I'm sitting here reading Scott Berkun's Confessions of a Public Speaker, pretty good book by the way (from the Viaboxx library). I'm just through the chapter about "Working a hard room".

And then it hits me: I actually spend an effort being a good audience at talks. I go to the odd conference and user-group meeting, and whoever is speaking, and even if the talk is not hitting home with me, I always try to...
  • Sit down in the middle, close to the speakers where they can see my face
  • Focus my full attention on them - no smartphone/laptop
  • React to what they're saying with my face, friendly smile when they say something smart, raise my eyebrowsand smile  when they say something surprising
  • Laugh at their jokes (I mean, not fake laugh, but be open to laugh)
  • Ask questions when I wonder about something
  • Hold my criticism till after the talk, if any, and give it in person
  • Think about and note any questions I'd like to ask in the Q&A
A good speaker/talk summons this behavior in the audience naturally, but I also give an effort in the not-so-good talks.

I do this because when I'm up there speaking myself, I would like to get the same behavior. A more involved audience makes my talk better, and gives more value back to them in the end.

PS: My next talk is presenting "Git for Windows users" at the Bonn .Net user group,, 29th of November.