Tag Archive for Audience

Who In The Audience Is The Most Keen?

Research by Robert Sommer in the late 1960’s showed how attention and participation was neatly tied to seating positions. This was especially true for very large audiences where it’s possible to have an uneven distribution of connectivity with the speaker. His research examined classroom ecology and revealed that students sitting in the front rows participated much more than those in the back rows and those in the middle, the most.

Front and center had the highest rate of participation whereas the rear left and rear right the least. One can picture a reverse arrangement with the largest percentage of participators at the “mouth” of the funnel nearest the speaker and the “end” of the funnel at the back with the fewest participators. As one travels back in the seats, those at the sides progressively get left out. Those at the back edges can more easily ‘escape’ and find refuge from the speaker.

Tonality Advice For Men

Communication patterns are often a make-it or break-it moment.

Communication patterns are often a make-it or break-it moment.

As we have seen in a pervious chapter, tonality plays a big part in the meaning and intent of the message being delivered. Speaking in a soft voice can be construed as nervous, especially if words are so quiet they are misheard. When in groups containing new people, it is very common to speak quietly to direct your conversation to specific people you are more familiar with, however this can and will alienate others and serve to isolate you further. While in a group, therefore, don’t be afraid to address everyone and save private conversations for later. Whispering, which is an entirely different ballgame can actually bring women closer and create sparks, so is fair technique to explore. As tonality pertains to dating and attraction, it is important to hold a strong voice and use projection to carry it to your audience. Speaking too loudly can come across as forceful and arrogant though, so try to balance your speech to your location and audience, as well as the surrounding noise.

As mentioned earlier, women find men with voices that are deep sexy and it is possible to lower the breadth of your voice with practice. Even keeping it monotone will make it seem deeper and sexier, although a lack of enthusiasm will likely out-weight the benefits. Calming and slowing the voice can also deepen it and these techniques can be perfected when practiced. Naturally each one of the techniques for voice lowering can appear forced and awkward, and in most cases, the voice can only be lowered by a few degrees, but this might be all that is required to bring a high pitched voice down to an acceptable medium.

Another aspect of voice is projection. In nightclubs where talking is often difficult at best, you might consider extending the length of words and phrases, so they are better heard. Men should never pass up an opportunity for closeness, and as mentioned, whispering is a great tool to accomplish this. A “hey, let’s get out of here, it’s too loud to talk” makes for a good exit strategy once a connection is formed. Regardless of the situation, a well projected voice communicates strength and confidence.

Men should also be mindful of nervous laughing and long bouts of monotone speech, which can be a killer for women. Men should avoid getting overly excited, but should also not be afraid to liven speech with gestures and some changes in pitch, to show that they have a pulse, and that their life is at least somewhat exciting. If men find themselves in conversation with an unwilling participant, they should change gears or change partners, this is what makes body language so powerful, since it eliminates the need to second guess interest. Having read the cues to sexual interest at the beginning of this chapter along with interest in general covered throughout the book, it should be plainly obvious what others are thinking about you.

Speed Of Speech

If you have ever critically examined a politician speak you have noticed how slowly and deliberately they work. In his bid for candidacy in 2008, Barack Obama used some of the most eloquent speech patterns of anyone in recent times. He spoke very slowly and used pauses often to show his dominance. He wasn’t afraid to pause and leave his audience wanting which made his presence much more powerful and placed much more emphasis on the fewer words he used. People that are awkward will speak much more quickly and rush their thoughts. Very few speakers can think as fast as their mouth can run. Inevitably speed talkers end up chucking a foot in their mouth on their way to the finish line. Use words more sparingly and choose your words more carefully. When listening, note the speed with which people speak to effectively measure their perceived or real level of dominance.

Head Tilted Interest

Head tilt shows interest.

Head tilt shows interest.

The head tilted at forty-five degrees from the center line of the body indicates interest and intrigue. It says “I am receptive, comfortable, and friendly.” The head tilt is one of the very significant and prominent postures that everyone should be aware of, especially educators of any kind. A professor for example, can gauge his efficacy as an instructor by the degree to which his audience tilts their head. Head tilting is also very difficult to fake because our minds will resist the posture when we dislike what we are hearing or the people around us, making it a very honest and reliable gesture.

Head on, means passive listening for example, head slightly tilted shows moderate interest and head at its maximum forty-five degrees shows full immersion. A teacher might see variations across his audience, and also across the subject matter. Head tilting is not an all or nothing phenomenon. This makes it easy to measure the success of a presentation nonverbally and tweak it as necessary.

Dogs also tilt their head, usually by engaging them in human conversations, so the root of this mechanism could simply be the state of being confusion. The head tilt is also a submissive gesture as it exposes the neck making it vulnerable to attack. One of the more prominent courtship displays is the exposed neck, and when done by women, is particularly alluring. This is examined in a later chapter.

Environment Plays On Height And Dominance

Standing up while others are seated instantly creates dominance.

Standing up while others are seated instantly creates dominance.

If your goal is to gain the dominance advantage, but nature dealt you the short stack, there are several ways to use your environment in your favour. One of which is to create a scenario where it is natural to present to a seated audience. Obviously this particular example is more suitable to a boardroom business meeting, but can also be amongst friends by roaming a room, rather than taking a fix seat while entertaining. When created an artificial scenario it would be wise to include ample comfortable seating to provide an incentive for people to plop themselves down. A man might use the standing advantage at a bar to pick up women by waiting for her sit instead of approaching her while she dances. Present to the seated naturally gives you a large height advantage.

This cop knows his game.  By keeping the suspect in his car he gains height-authority over him.

This cop knows his game. By keeping the suspect in his car he gains height-authority over him.

Stages by their nature are designed to give power to the speaker. Fewer interruptions from the audience is the direct result of being higher than them. It is very unnatural to address someone with any degree of authority from a lower position and we instinctively know this. If there are height differences and levels about a room, such as split levels or stairs, and your goal it to intimate or dominant someone, then use them. For example, standing on an upper step with your target below you will give you the upper hand every time. Addressing someone taller than you from an elevated position such that their height is negated will make them feel very uncomfortable and uneasy. They aren’t used to playing short stacked and they will probably do their best to rebalance the field in their favour when the opportunity arises. Try this experiment on door-to-door solicitors the next time they interrupt you. First, be sure to use the door as a barrier never quite opening it fully, and never ever invite them in. If you have a glass portion of your door, close the door slightly so as to be speaking through the glass. Ideally this will force them to address you from the next step which will be lower giving you at least a six inch height advantage. This is usually enough to stifle their pitch or at least annoy them. Next close and re-open the door at random intervals. This might seem cruel, but remember you never invited them, so they brought it upon themselves!

While lifts in shoes are out of style for men, there exits shoe brands and inserts that can add up to two inches of height. If you are 5’8”, then two inches can make a big difference in the height game, and put you into or above the average. Women know the power of heels all to well, and should use it to their advantage whenever possible in business and even in dating. The exception though is when the purpose is to build cooperation rather than asserting competence. Women should use heels in dating to set their benchmark height. It is universally recognized that women prefer men to be two to three inches taller than they are. By simply using a heel of that height and eliminating men who don’t stack up, they can immediately thwart unwanted advances. Most men won’t solicit from women taller than they are.

As we saw, forcing others to sit while we stand can helps neutralize height differences, but so too does mutually sitting. If both parties are forced to sit, the advantage is given to those that have the biggest rear ends rather than those with the longest legs. The extra cushion serves to prop them up! The largest differences in heights is largely due to the biggest bones in our bodies which is our legs, not our spines, although they do play a part. Sitting down, takes our legs out of commission. Next we should try to hold good posture and if our company has poor posture, we can negate all or most of the height difference. Sitting on opposite sides of the table negates height differences even further because separation makes it difficult to make the height comparison. The same tactic can be used while standing just by taking a step back.

An advanced, although cruel tactic includes sabotaging others by providing them with lower chairs. It’s not uncommon in the interview process to give prospects unpadded chairs with short legs. When multiple people are present, just claim the tallest chair! A chair with an abnormally tall back commonly used by royalty will make someone appear shorter due to perspective, but will also serve to make them appear more dominant and authoritative.

If presented with a power player who insists on interrupting and talking over you or others especially while seated, play their game. Instead of taking it sitting down, stand up, walk about the room, move away from the situation or move to the opposite side of the desk or table or use misdirection by looking out a window pretending to ponder his position. Each of these actions will unnerve them forcing them to up their game or concede. The simplest and most honest tactic is to hold better, more upright posture, which in and of itself can add inches over people with poor posture. Most people have a bad habit of slouching, so using better posture on its own makes you appear more confident by comparison.

If your objective is to maintain common ground instead of exploiting it, then the best bet it to try to level or lessen height differences instead of exploiting them. Tall women know this all to well, and can be found with poor posture usually because they stand out from the crowd and get teased as teenagers. Unfortunately, instead of walking tall, they hunch up trying to appear subordinate so they fit into the crowd unnoticed. Obviously, tall women who slouch are self-conscious of their height.

This not-withstanding reducing height differences fosters cooperation and reduces tension. Tall people should take notes and reverse all that was said above with respect to exploiting height differences. Most of what was mentioned was methods to use height to manipulate or create power imbalances. If the goal is to achieve cooperation, then we should be careful to try to level height differences instead of maximizing them. We should rarely show submission though, as it can be as disastrous as showing dominance when trying to build cooperation. We never want to appear weak even as we seek common ground.

Audience Eye Contact

When presenting to an audience it can be intimidating to hold eye contact, but it’s a necessary condition for delivering a message effectively. Eye contact need not be met with each individual person in an extremely large audience because most people won’t be able to distinguish specific eye direction anyway. Depending on the size of the crowd and the distance at which the presenter speaks, eye contact made at one person might seem to be directed at as many as five or even fifteen people surrounding them.

To make eye contact easier when addressing a crowd, you should centre out someone that you find less intimidating as the first person to make eye contact with. As people make their way into the room and as you organize, you’ll have plenty of time to centre someone out. Generally, this person should be at the center of the audience. Next you should choose at least one person in every corner of the room from which you can jump back in forth over the course of the presentation. If you find this intimidating, you can choose inanimate objects such as an exit sign or an empty chair to focus on or you can direct your gaze above their eyes such as to their foreheads or their hair instead. Your introduction is your first impression and is therefore the most crucial time during the presentation to make eye contact.

As the size of the group grows, it becomes more difficult to make a solid connection, making eye contact even more important. The nature of addressing larger groups says that we generally address them from further away than we would a smaller group. This is especially the case for groups larger than fifty. Groups with two, to about fifteen, should make it easy to make eye contact with everyone, so a good solid attempt should be made to do just that. If you accomplish this, the impression will be the strongest possible. You never really know which people will yield the most constructive interactions at the end of your presentation, so you will want to keep all avenues open.

While answering a question be sure to hold eye contact with the inquirer directly, rather than the audience at larger, especially when you first begin to respond. If the material turns into something that is of general audience interest, feel free to resume eye contact with the rest of the people. Eye contact should be held with each audience member momentarily instead of shifting from person to person hastily. Ideally, you will shift your view from person to person to emphasis points or transitions in your speech. Your rate of speech should be slower than the rate at which you would speak to a friend since any missed information can’t be easily or quickly clarified with questions. Also be sure to vary the rate of your speech, the tone and the pitch thereby avoiding monotony.