They’re glassy eyed, maybe even falling asleep, chatting or texting.
Worse still and more embarrassing is the presenter who becomes frantic, attempting to regain attention.
It has happened to me twice.
The first was early in my speaking career when I became aware of a lady in the front row, slumped, with her head back and her mouth open, quietly snoring. The second was later, during a presentation, and I watched with increasing concern as one after another, the people in the audience got that glazed look. They were too polite to nod off or chat, but the evidence was there. I had been asked to present on the subject and had failed to research that audience and their needs, which, it turned out, were on a different level altogether.
I well remember the panicky feeling. Fortunately I managed to turn the situations around. As the snores gently increased, we moved quickly into small group discussion so that the people around the sleepy-head moved and woke her up to participate. And in the presentation, as it became increasingly obvious that the material I had prepared was just not appropriate, I was able to drop the script, and work with the audience to find out their needs and present something they needed and got quite excited about. But I will never forget that initial feeling of losing attention.
Avoid the whole situation if you can by researching your audience and make sure you address the What’s In It For Me factor.
Avoid the whole situation if you can by embedding signposts so that your audience can follow the road of your presentation with you.
Avoid the whole situation if you can by ensuring you have variety wired into your presentation, and have something up your sleeve that you can move into if necessary.
Introduce a new visual.
Involve the audience.
Change your stance, body language or walking pattern.
Change from a complex approach to the subject and create pure simplicity. Change direction entirely.
Ask for directions to take.
Whatever you use, it will become a smooth, professional piece of your presentation instead of a situation that embarrasses you and your audience.