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Why No Reaction Can Be A Great Reaction

I am writing this blog sitting on a train on the way back from Manchester and I heard this:

“It was terrible, I just couldn’t get them to talk. I tried EVERYTHING, all the tricks in the book. In the end I just decided that it was a Monday morning and gave up.”

As it turned out, the woman on the phone was referring to some training that she had delivered that morning.

Which made me think of a question in two parts:

How important is it that people ask you questions after your presentation, and does it necessarily mean that you haven’t been a success if they don’t?

It probably makes sense to you that the greater the visible signs of reaction from the audience, the greater the sign of retention and interest they show.

True.  But it’s also dangerous to generalise.

While we all like, and to a certain degree expect questions, it’s not such a bad thing sometimes to receive none.

In fact, I wouldn’t get hung up on getting any.  Here’s an example:

I have heard Jeff Taylor speak a few times. Taylor was the founder of Monster.com.

One time he spoke for about 20 minutes and the audience of about 100 really seemed to be enjoying it.

Taylor gave us all an insight into his life – what he did at work, his plans for Monster and a few really interesting insights about Monster.

At the end, he invited questions….and there was silence.

After a few rather uncomfortable seconds, Jeff smiled confidently and said “Right, well I’ll be around for the rest of the day, and I’ll be happy to chat”, and bounced out of the room.

Jeff gave a great presentation, entertaining, witty and informative.  But no questions or comments.

The point is: your audience may be really interested in what you are saying and agree without saying a word.  And it doesn’t mean you are uninspiring or boring.

It can mean you’re captivating, thought-provoking or the potential receiver of many questions in the days or weeks after – by which time the audience has digested what you were saying.

Maybe the woman sitting in seat 42 on the train really was a boring presenter.

But maybe she would relax more if she judged success not necessarily by the reaction, but by making her content interesting and highly relevant for her audience.

In our Presentation Skills training we help you to develop clear and memorable presentations with just the right level of audience involvement.  Give me a call on 0207 043 1582 if you would like to discuss this further!

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