Never Speak with Your Back Facing the Audience

Never Speak with Your Back Facing the Audience


For my first speech in Toastmasters, I was nervous.

I had never given a full-blown speech like this in a club before.


The day before, I could barely sleep.

I mentally kept repeating my lines.


On the day of the talk, I awaited as my name was called.

‘The next speaker is Arman Chowdhury! By the way, this will be his icebreaker.’


The icebreaker is the first talk you give in Toastmasters.


The next 7 minutes felt like a blur.

I thought it went well.


Different people gave me compliments afterward.

Besides one guy…


Back Facing the Audience


Overall, the audience loved my speech.

But there was a guy named Mark who threw subliminal shots at me.


He said that when speakers talk, it’s smart to keep the entire audience involved.

That shows respect.


I thought:

‘Duh!! Which speaker had their back facing the audience?’


After the talk, club members gave me compliments.

Then they followed up with:

‘By the way Armani, when you give your speech, you should get all sides of the audience involved. Your back was facing one side of the audience the entire time.’


Wait a minute.

Was Mark talking about me??


Oh no, he was!!


I made a big public speaking faux pas.

And I had no clue.


How the Audience Feels When They See Your Back the Entire Time


I didn’t face my back to one side of the audience out of malice.

It was due to pure ignorance.


The Toastmasters club that I was a part of had a weird audience setup.

The audience sat in a U-shape.


Obviously, I’m going to look at the middle of the audience.

But with left vs right, it really depends on which side I’m normally more comfortable with.


If you normally do a lot of things with your right hand, then you will lean towards looking at the right side of the audience.

If you lean left, then you will look left.


Where we look happens subconsciously.

We have no clue when we are making the mistake of ignoring one segment of the audience.

However, the segment that is getting no attention feels disrespected.


How do you feel when you’re having a group conversation, and one person has their back turned towards you the entire time?

‘I don’t feel good.’

Why not?

‘Because I feel ignored.’



When your back faces a segment of the audience for the entire time, they feel ignored.


How to Get the Audience Involved


Here’s a public speaking hack for beginners:

  • You only need to look at 3 people as you’re getting started. One from the middle, left, and right. Choose the most engaged member from each segment and have a conversation with them.


This beginner’s tip can be applied to veterans as well.

When you segment the audience into 3, then you are forced to look at each segment and avoid blind spots.


Certain audiences are easy to break into 3 segments.

The typical setup where everyone is sitting in front of you is easy to divide.


However, there are times when the audience is scattered.

Picture what it looks like in Desi weddings.



Do your best to segment them anyways.

Think general rather than specific.

You don’t need exact measurements.


Just get your hand, and mentally dice the audience into 3.

Dicing the audience into 3 gives your nervous system clarity.


We often do silly things when we don’t have clarity.

When we don’t have clarity, we just see a big blob known as the “audience.”

When we see a big blob, it’s easier to face our back towards that big blob.


Don’t Rely Too Much on Tools


Another culprit for speakers having their backs facing the audience for the entire time is because of PowerPoints.

Some speakers are so invested in their PowerPoint that they just read off the slides.



  • The PowerPoint is meant to be a tool, not the master.


If you have a PowerPoint for your talk, consciously focus on looking away every now and then.

To do this, assume that the PowerPoint may not be working on the day of your speech.


When you assume that the PowerPoint may not work, you are forced to memorize key points.

You are less dependent on the tool.


By the way, the PowerPoint can easily not work.

I lost count of how many times a particular cable was missing and the speaker couldn’t access their slides.


Many speakers froze.

They had no clue what to do.


These speakers were way too dependent on their slides.

If the PowerPoint was working, I’m pretty sure they would’ve had their back facing the audience for most of the time.


When creating your PowerPoint, think:

  • What if an important cable is missing on the day of my talk and I can’t access my slides? Can I still give my talk?’


With this perspective, you will create the PowerPoint for the audience rather than for you.

When you view the PowerPoint as a tool, you are more dynamic with your movements.


Forgive Yourself, Learn, and Adjust


It’s embarrassing to have your back facing a segment of the audience for the entire talk.

Because someone will make a sarcastic comment:

‘Wow, I forgot what your face looks like. Especially because I only saw your back during your talk.’


It hurts your feelings when they make a comment like that.

You put in all this work, and it’s overshadowed by a faux pas.


Having your back facing the audience happens to the best of us.

It’s not normal to speak to so many people at the same time.


On a day-by-day basis, we are having solo conversations, or at max, group conversations with 5 people.

When you turn 5 into 50, you get overflowed with new information.


You didn’t know then what you know now.

Forgive yourself and get back on the battlefield.


For future speeches, segment the audience into 3.

Divide and conquer, my friend.


For more insights into public speaking, check out the Speaking Wizard eBook

– ArmaniTalks 🎙️🔥

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