In Part 1, “Is that really ME giving that confident presentation?”, I covered some of the more physical and emotional characteristics for giving a confident presentation.  Let’s talk about those silent, yet very loud, signals from your audience. These are indicators that tell you if they are present in mind or in body only.  Whether the audience consists of one person listening to your sales presentation, or a room of 500 people from your industry, following these tips will help you present a more engaging session and help build your reputation as a confident, credible speaker.

  • Passive rejection: When someone in the boardroom or the event ballroom is showing signs of passive rejection, they become evasive by trying to create some distance.  Eyes wander and bodies turn away, fidget or transmit other signals that say they have mentally left the room.  Without saying a word, these individuals have told you they are no longer listening. If this happens, ask a specific question (one that requires a specific answer where they do not have the opportunity to get on their soap box).  Showing a brief interest in them may get them re-engaged. Interject some humor if appropriate. Walk over to them and smile!
  • Active, negative signals: If someone closes their notebook, doodles, reads text messages or emails, pushes themselves away from the table or crosses their arms, it is wise to determine why. Someone transmitting just one  signal may not mean much, but closing a notebook while whispering to their neighbor and looking around the room is a good sign you probably need to recapture their attention.
  • Sitting: An individual sitting on the edge of the chair appears to be in a hurry to leave and may not be paying attention.  If their lower back is pressed against the back of their chair while head and shoulders are leaning slightly forward, most likely, they are absorbed in your conversation.
  • Crossing body parts: Sometimes this signal just says that they are cold or don’t know what to do with their arms.  Crossing arms and legs while turning away is a signal they have shut you out. Reconnect with them.
  • Facial expression:  A smile shows warmth and interest. A deer-in-the-headlights look signals they might not understand your point.  Even if they are too embarrassed to ask a question, be sure to clarify your point to
    • avoid misunderstandings,
    • the audience leaving without “getting it,” or
    • people departing in disagreement with no further chance to find out why.
  • Nodding in agreement:  When listeners nod their heads up and down or tilt them to the side while intently listening, it is usually a sign they are paying attention and hopefully, agreeing you…or at least understanding what you are saying.

Paying attention and adjusting your message according to the signals you get from an audience can mean the difference between success and failure…new customers or not. The practice of reading body signals can actually be quite fun.  Give it a try!

Stay tuned for Part 3 with suggestions for how an audience interprets your message by what YOU are doing.

For virtual presentation skills training, effective learning transfer and the opportunity to monitor your progress, go to


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rita Rocker is a national inspirational and educational speaker, communications and image specialist, and a career and virtual presentations coach with Transformation Academy, LLC.  She is the author of “A Guide to Marketing Yourself for Success”, and a contributing author to “The Unstoppable Woman’s Guide to Emotional Well Being -The Total Woman in Leadership and Success Guide for the Unstoppable Entrepreneur.” She has appeared on national television and radio talk shows on self-esteem and communication. A former Mrs. Nebraska and active in numerous professional organizations, Rita is on the Board of the Small Business Association of the Midlands and co-director of greater Omaha’s Affiliated Women International. Rita provides life and career-transforming programs to mature teens and adults. Contact Rita at