Hope springs eternal.

Your audience has high expectations of your presentation and it is good to know that they support you, truly, and want the best for you. Nervous or inexperienced presenters should draw succour from this, the audience really do want you to get through and present well.

I was intrigued recently to see this strident hope recently even in the face of what appeared to be impending doom. If you make a mistake, if you skip over two slides, if you lose your thread, if you forget one line of your bulletpointed script, if your voice shakes, if a joke fails the audience will forgive you and actually due to these problems may even more on your side. Never have I seen an audience turn on a presenter; never have I heard catcalls; never have I seen the lights turned up or the microphone turned off to halt proceedings. Perhaps it is because we have all been there but the audience is not out to get you.

Even more intriguing is that the audience holds the hope that things will change and improve with every slide change, with every change in topic. Recently I was subjected to what I can only describe as torpid, boring, unimaginative listing of unconnected facts. The presenter was behind the podium and reading her presentation line by line from the screen in front of her, not even achieving eye contact for more than a second. Yet with every single slide change, the audience looked expectantly at the screen. We were so bored and so disconnected that no one cared but everyone maintained a polite attention. And then I realised it, we were hoping, perhaps against sense and experience, that this slide would herald some interest, some message, some enthusiasm, some connection so far missing. Every single slide was met with hope.

So don’t be so afraid. Don’t feel the audience is out to attack you. They aren’t. In fact they want you to engage, they want you to connect, they want to hear what you have to say. All you have to do is do it.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.