Provided your title and abstract accurately describe what you are presenting (see deliver what you say you will), you’ve got to trust the audience have made the right choice to come to your talk. Frits Hoogland made this comment on that previous post.
“It works the other way around too… Got a comment on a deep dive presentation saying ‘stuff way over my head’…”
This was my response to Frits.
“You did what you said you would. They picked the wrong session. Not your fault!”
If you describe a session as a “deep dive” and a newbie comes to it, they can’t complain about it being to complicated. If you describe a session as an introduction, experts can’t complain that it didn’t go into enough depth.
When you first start presenting, the visual feedback (body language) of the audience can have a dramatic impact on your confidence. Invariably, you will notice those people that look bored or disgruntled and you will focus on them. You will notice that guy sleeping in the front row and see it as evidence that you are the most boring person alive. It takes a while before you have enough confidence to see the audience response for what it is.
I’m not saying you should ignore this negative feedback, but you have to try and put that feedback into context. If you expect to have everyone leave the room saying you were awesome, you are going to be very disappointed, but don’t let one or two people bring you down, when the majority of the room was filled with happy people.
There are definitely cultural differences that affect the interaction with the audience. The more international presentations you do, the more you will notice this. I’ve got a specific post on this coming, so I won’t say too much about this now. 🙂
Another thing to remember is, you are not necessarily reading the visual feedback correctly. I’ve done sessions that I thought were going badly that got excellent evaluations. The trick is, once you get on the stage and start, do the best you can and deal with the feedback once it’s over. Don’t let what is going on in the room affect you mid-flow. There will be plenty of time after the session for analysis. 🙂 Use the visual, verbal and written feedback, like speaker evaluations and comments on social media, as part of your learning experience.
I’ll conclude with this great quote Connor McDonald left on one of my previous posts.
“No matter how you do (spectacularly well or spectacular fail), the thing that will amaze you at the end of it will be ….. ‘Hey, I’m still alive'”
Check out the rest of the series here.