Waqas Younas

A surprisingly simple way to tell if you’ve engaged your audience

June 01, 2019

What’s a remarkably simple and instant sign you can use to tell whether you -- as a founder, manager, teacher, parent or any type of speaker -- have completely engaged your audience after you have finished your business with them? That too, without asking for feedback.

As a startup founder and engineering manager, I had to hold meetings and give presentations on numerous occasions. Almost always, right after the end of a meeting or a presentation, I was curious as to whether I had been able to engage my audience. Whether I had been able to move them with the company’s mission, a policy, various projects, etc. I always wondered whether I had ignited a spark. But I couldn’t find the answer without asking for feedback or using other signs as a guide, e.g., number and quality of questions.

Similarly, as a parent, when I am telling my child a story or trying to persuade him with an idea or concept, sometimes I wonder in the end whether I’ve influenced or moved him with my spiel.

I recently came across a fascinating interview and delightfully captivating TED talk by the brilliant music conductor Benjamin Zander that speak to my quandary. Zander shares a surprisingly simple and terrific insight. He says if you have genuinely engaged your audience, then you will find a lot of “shining eyes” at the end. If you see shining eyes, it means you did it. You created value for them. You moved them and lit a spark, which they might then pass on to others.

I find that insight fascinating.

So next time you want to determine if you really created value for, and were able to engage, your audience, then look for a lot of shining eyes. If they are not there, then, as Zander puts it, ask yourself “who am I being when the eyes of my audience are not shining?”