Any success I have in my public speaking career comes from speech instructors like World Champion of Public Speaking, Dana Lamon. In 2005, Dana assisted me with my World Champion Speech: The Empty Chair. Throughout my tenure in Toastmasters International, Dana provides wisdom, humor, and long-time experience. From our e-mail exchange, here are his tips for public speaking as THE FIRST BLIND MAN to achieve First Place World Champion of Public Speaking 1992. Here's what Dana says to help you - blind or sighted:
There are four ways that I know whether or not my audience is with me.
1. If the room is right, I can tell by the energy in the room. As I put forth energy in my presentation, I can sense whether the audience is putting forth energy. There is little energy feedback if they are sleeping or distant. I really dislike speaking outdoors because I can't get this energy reading.
2. I use humor and stories to get my audience to respond or emote. If they are laughing, they are with me. There is usually someone in the audience who will respond with an "Amen," "Oh!", gasp, clap, or something else audible.
3. When I am doing a workshop, I often ask the audience to respond with "oh yeah!" whenever they hear me say "17." From time to time in the presentation, I will throw in a "17" to see if they are with me. Occasionally, my "17" is unintentional, so I am stunned when all of a sudden they respond with "oh yeah!"
4. Here is an unscientific observation I have made. When the audience is bored or restless, there seems to be a chain of coughs through the room. One person will cough in back, say. Then someone else will cough up front. Then another to the side. If I begin to hear three or four coughs in a short period of time, I suspect my audience is bored or tired or lost.
5. Another I might add is that, when people aren't "with you" there's a shifting of position, a rustling of clothing, etc., maybe even a digging around in purses or whatever. (I think people don't realize how much we, as blind people, are used to picking up auditorily. I remember when my kids were small, they'd do something they thought I couldn't hear, like wearing their new shoes out to play and walking very carefully, or trying to get something off a shelf that they weren't supposed to be getting. I'd say, "Please put that chocolate back. It's too close to dinner, and you didn't ask permission." or "Please go upstairs and put on your tennis shoes; those new shoes are for school!"
My daughter says they still talk about how quietly they tried to do these things, and they STILL can't figure out how I knew what they were up to! Subtlety is the name of the game here. It's not just the right-out-there sounds, it's the subtle ones that give people away!
Hope this helps.
Good luck in your presentation.
Wishing for you meaningful living.