The ‘Tells’ of Body Language – Part 3: Being the Receiver

Theodoros Millidonis L1, Cyprus

Theodoros Millidonis L1, Cyprus

Hello and welcome to the third and final article dedicated to body language tells. In Part 2 of the series, I spoke about how to be an effective sender of the proper tells that reinforce a strong presentation style during a seminar.

We will now see how to read the tells our audience is sending us.

Reading Body Language during a Seminar (being the receiver)

The real trick here is to be able to tailor your presentation style based on the tells you are receiving from your audience.

Obviously, we should always carry out a preliminary research on who our audience will be at a particular seminar. It could be a seminar directed towards new level ones to guide them on their journey towards level two, or alternatively it could be a seminar directed to level 3+ judges to discuss major developments in the Judge Program. With such wide gaps in topics and target audiences, we need to try our best to suit our presentation style to the expectations of the audience in order to reach out to them in an effective way.

We should generally try to create an atmosphere which encourages discussion, especially if we know that there are members of the audience who are more expert than us with regard to the topic we are presenting. A proper presentation style and good use of body language can ensure your audience remains interested and does not get bored.

Here are common tells that indicate an audience is bored during a presentation:

  • They are yawning


  • They are fidgeting


  • They are playing with their mobile phones


  • They are talking or whispering to their neighbors


  • They are sleeping (no kidding…)


  • They are leaning their chin on their hand and frowning


  • They are spacing out, their eyes are glazed over


  • They are leaning back, not making eye contact and are slouching in their seats


  • They aren’t responding … no laughter, no questions, no applause at appropriate points


These might all seem really obvious, but how often are presenters so absorbed by the technicalities of their topic, that they fail to see these clear tells? Way too often.

So what should we do? Observe!


Simply observing our audience and learning how to read them will tell us whether we need to change something during our seminar. We shouldn’t be afraid to do this, since the most important thing we are trying to do is to make our point and to this end should be prepared to adapt to the circumstances as they arise.

Most speakers fail to give the audience what they came for, which is typically answers to their questions. People will perk up instantly when you start giving them what they came for. So encourage discussion, let the audience exchange ideas and use this to spearhead the direction of the seminar. If your topic is interesting, then this shouldn’t be a problem. Use your slides as a visual reference to the topic being discussed, but also be prepared to deviate from them if a discussion sparks up. A key way to identify the best direction your seminar should take, is by observing the body language tells of your audience!

In conclusion, a proper presentation style along with strong ability to read the tells of our audience help us establish a good connection with them.

Look out for more articles coming and good luck with your seminars!

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