We all have our moods, depending upon the day and our situation: some days good, some days not so much. But moods aren’t just for individuals. Groups can also share a collective mood. And if you’re in that group, you will be more successful communicating with everyone if you can “read the room.” It is a skill that can really be useful getting your point across to a group. But not everyone is good at it. Don’t have that skill? You need to learn it.
Let me give you an example. Your group has just held a hugely successful fundraiser. You are all together celebrating. Most of the group is tallying up the revenue raised, sharing success stories and just being happy all went well for you and the cause. But there is that one person in the room who is dwelling on that one thing that went wrong during your fundraiser.
The incident was annoying, but you all handled it, and everything came out just fine. That one person did not read the room. The group was excited and celebrating success. But this person is in the weeds, dwelling on what went wrong. What if there was a problem? Everyone will probably talk about it another time. This was the time for joy. And that one person just couldn’t read the room. And I guarantee that one person misreads the room every time. Whenever the meeting is over and everyone wants to go home, that person has something else he thinks is important to talk about. Picture the rest of the group sighing. He’s done it before.
So let’s quit picking on this guy and teach him how to read a room or else get dumped from the group! When in a group setting, limit how much you talk. If you do all the talking, you might be listening to others, but you aren’t really hearing them. Remember you’ve got two ears and one mouth, and you should use them proportionately.
You also need to respond to the situation you are in. If you are speaking to a group, reading the room can be critical. If you’re speaking and everyone is looking at their cell phones, tapping their feet or looking toward the door, you are not reading the room. You are losing the room. I had a speaking engagement recently that I thought was for seniors. I prepared a talk for seniors. I got to the event, and to my dismay, half of the group was under 16 years of age. After that flash of realization that my speech was not going to work with this crowd, I flipped the script and got the enthusiastic reaction I was originally hoping for. I read the room and re-grouped.
When you read the room, you use your power of observation to learn the general mood of people in a particular setting. You may then react in a way that is appropriate to that mind set. The expression “read the room” is all about being observant.
Reading the room is a skill. People who can read the room know the right atmosphere, tone and mood to be able to fit in. So don’t be that guy. Eventually, we will forget to tell him when the next meeting is taking place and where it will be held.
Lynne Conlan is executive director of the South Hillsborough Chamber of Commerce. Call her at 813-634-5111, or email email@example.com/.