I’ve been banging on about this for 19 years. It still seems to be a public speaking secret. Audiences have blank faces a lot of the time. The photo above is an audience listening - the description by the photographer is of a "rapt audience". It's really hard to see that!
Audiences listen differently . They don't nod very often, they don't smile very often. So when we are speakers we get confused because we are SO used to having a normal conversation where we get lots of approval signals (smiles, nods, little vocal sounds, facial signs and body matching).
We don't get this when we speak publicly and it feels like we are failing if we are not used to it. When you step in front of an audience you will step into the land of non-approval (or so it seems)
When you sit in the audience, you change from a conversational listener to a passive listener. Yes, of course you are listening to the speaker until you start thinking of your holidays in two weeks time, or how are you going to get the car fixed. As an audience member you listen passively, not actively. Sometime you may even enjoy having some down time for yourself away from the emails so you can think about a problem at work even when someone is presenting. Next time you are in the audience, notice how little you do with your face!
So audiences have blank faces. Its normal!
By Blank I mean bored looking, frowny looking, angry looking, yawning, looking up at the ceiling and the floor and even eyes closed.
I want you to see them as just how audiences listen. It’s just an audience face.
In fact I really want you to love blank faces. And if you see them as not threatening or judging but just standard audience faces you will not get put off by them. And then you can concentrate on all the other things you have to do as a speaker.
Take a look at this film I made years ago. It's only 56 seconds. You'll need the sound on
first published in 2010 on my blog with chunky additions in 2019