I would be very worried if my audience was silent. For an entire presentation. Worse if it continues after the presentation.
So how do I avoid it? I think the key lies in the desire of establishing and making a strong connection with the audience. By now, my curiosity in the audience has killed all the 9 cat lives I had and I am still alive, so I guess that means it is worth taking the risk and interest in your audience.
For me, the interest starts with the question of “WIIFM?” (What’s In It for Me?) from the audience’ perspectives. Once you get the answers, it should be fairly easy to list some open and closed questions that are easy for the audience to provide those answer. For example, this is what happened during my Tech-Talker training session on Monday. I know the participants would want to improve their public speaking skills and get more engaged audience, so I asked questions like, “Why is verbal communication important?”, “Have you experienced a similar situation in the past?” and “How is your typical audience like?” …By the way, the last question is how I got an overwhelming response of “silent audience”, and hence the idea for this blog posting.
Writing a blog is the closet I am to a silent audience, but by its nature, it is more one-directional. But even with that, I have a trick to deal with that – I have a lot of confidence in my messages! Confidence that the messages will connect with you and encourage some of you to discuss with me me about these topics, one day. And I am also hopeful that the day will be soon. Until then, I will keep on sharing on topics that I will keep thinking “WIIFM” for you, and write on topics that would be interesting to you.
I am not worried about “silent audience”. Are you?