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A successful presentation has many elements, but connecting with the audience is the most important if you want the message you’re delivering to have real affect.

If you aren’t picking up on the subtle clues of connection and the reactions of people in the room, how can you learn to do so? What signals should you be looking for?


Annie McKee, a senior fellow at the University of Pennsylvania and author of How to be Happy at Work told the Harvard Business Review the best way to read a room is to pay close attention to people. This means taking note of not just what they’re saying, but observing who’s sitting next to whom, who’s smiling, who’s standing, and how much space is between people. Pick up on how people are feeling by looking carefully at their facial expressions, posture and body language. Be on the lookout for quick micro expressions like fleeting smiles, raising eyebrows or even tiny frowns. These observations will give you the information you need to interpret group dynamics.

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