Everyone spends so much time working on their presentation skills, but could it actually be your bad audience skills that are holding you back at work?


You just gave a killer presentation to your boss and coworkers about a new project your team is working on. The applause is now over and it’s time for another coworker to present their work. Do you think your job for the day is over and you can slink back in your chair and play Minecraft on your phone? Think again!

bad audience skills

Not paying attention to others at work can come back to haunt you

One of the worst mistakes I’ve seen students make over and over again in my university classroom is turning their efforts off when another student is in the spotlight. Research shows that in the classroom as well as in the workplace, those who are most likely to be noticed and recommended for promotions, jobs, or other goodies are consistently the ones who GIVE the most to their peers.

Shawn Achor writes in the Harvard Business Review article, What Giving Gets You at the Office, “The greatest predictor of success and happiness at work is social support. And the greatest way to increase social support is to provide it to others.”

But wait, how can sitting in an audience count as being supportive of others? Try asking yourself a few simple questions:

  • Are you looking at the speaker?
  • Have you put your phone away and silenced it to avoid being a distraction?
  • Are you engaged in what the speaker is saying so you can ask intelligent follow-up questions?
  • Are you taking notes to show interest and to retain information that can help you later?
  • Are you being encouraging or demoralizing?
  • Are you treating the speaker the way you would like to be treated by your audience when it’s your turn?

We live in a distracted world where good audience and listening skills are becoming less and less common. I am even shocked at how some of my professor peers behave during meetings and graduation speeches. So by fine-tuning your audience skills you will not only help out a fellow (probably nervous) public speaker, but also be seen as a good team player, responsible, and accountable by your boss and those in a position to promote you.

Have a look at this short video to make sure you are following the most essential do’s and don’t s.



This is a sample lesson from a new course I am working on with Dr. Luisa Glascock called “Succeed In the Global Workplace: Top Skills You Need to Have.” It comes from a ten-week live training session we did with the young creative professionals at Mango Group in Yangon, Myanmar.

Come grab the full online course (or be notified when it’s ready) here.

To your career success!

Best wishes,