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Being An Audience Member


          In front of every good speaker is a supportive, critical, and thoughtful audience member. Your role as an audience member is vital to the success of the speaker. As an audience remember, you are the receiver—be receptive! Here are a few guidelines you should follow as an audience member:

  • Be on time! If you are late, don’t interrupt the speaker.

  • Be courteous—treat the speaker as you would want to be treated. 

  • Listen wholly. 

    • Your eyes are attentive

    • Your ears are open 

    • Your heart is receptive

    • And your mind is ready to perceive 

  • Be responsive

    • Provide supportive nonverbal feedback 

      • Head nods, chin rubbing, inquisitive eyes

    • Provide appropriate verbal feedback

      • When appropriate, tell the speaker whether you agree or disagree

        • THINK: Saying “amen” during a pastor’s sermon. 

        • Or cheer when you agree with what is being said.

  • Silence your cell phone (vibration should be off, too!), smartwatch, and other wearables. 

  • Don’t text or use your devices during the presentation* 

  • Put away distracting materials such as books, papers, computers*, etc. 

  • Pay attention to the speaker. 

  • Stay focused on the message. 

  • Try not to evaluate the speaker but rather the message they are conveying. 

  • Maintain eye contact with them—give them an audience to talk with not at. 

  • Be open to new ideas and ways of thinking. 

    • Be aware of the perceptions from your personal frames of reference. 

  • Applaud when appropriate.

    • If the presentation is live (in-person or via a video conferencing system), applaud at appropriate times, especially at the end of a presentation.

    • If the presentation is prerecorded, avoid applause as it will be a distraction and the speaker is not present to receive the affirmation. 

  • Be able to provide thoughtful and specific feedback if required and necessary. 

*If the presentation is interactive and requires the use of electronics, use them only as directed. 

Review Questions

1) When should is it appropriate to applaud during a presentation? When is it not appropriate?

2) If a presentation allows the audience to participate on electronic devices, should you scroll through social media during the presentation?

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