What do you do when you are sitting in an audience?
My guess is that you will be listening for awhile to the speaker and then perhaps thinking about your own life(overdraft, relationship, work tensions, children etc.) and then going back to listen. More rarely you might be deeply connected to what the speaker is saying. But you may have some slightly critical thoughts about the information presented or the speaker if they go onto too long.
But on the whole you just let the speaker get on with it. You allow them to take the space without even thinking about. And you will be listening in a quieter way rather than the active way you do in conversations. That usually means you will be listening with a blank face
Of course there might be some exceptions to this but I’m conjuring up a fairly standard audience scene. So that’s the first kind of audience and that somehow belongs to all the other speakers.
However somehow it can all change when you step up to be a speaker. When it’s your turn to do public speaking the audience suddenly becomes very critical, hostile, judgemental and bored. The blank faces are difficult to look at. People who yawn are doing it deliberately and in a hostile way directly at you!
The second type of audience seems monstrous. And somehow it’s THE audience you tend to get as a speaker. How unfair is that?
Something strange it seems is going on.
What is really happening is that we are making the second audience up. We create it in our heads. We have a very good threat detector in our flight and fight system but it’s over-sensitive. If we are not careful we project our internal worries on to those blank faces. So bizarrely and frustratingly we are doing it to ourselves. So we need to learn to get past this stage of creating a monster out of the audience and come back to stand in front of the first kind of audience that all of the other speakers have. It’s a lot more pleasant.