Why 'reading the room' is a limiting idea for speakers.
Updated: Nov 25, 2020
The main thought behind reading the room is a good one: be aware of your listeners and adjust to them. But once you internalize that main thought, the larger idea only holds you back.
Reading the room is understood to be a conscious task done separately from speaking – you turn on your awareness of your listeners before you speak only to turn it off while you speak.
Great speakers consistently raise their awareness of their listeners throughout their talk, sometimes on a sentence-by-sentence frequency. For them, it is part of the coordination system of speaking. It's muscle memory – less analytical and more instinctual.
Once you master reading the room, let it go. Turn your effort toward ongoing awareness. Make it an integral part of your speaking coordination system.