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Does delivery matter when the audience isn’t looking at you?

Delivery matters even when the audience can't see you because everything you do (or don’t do) to engage your body comes through in your voice.

4 min read




Have you ever delivered a presentation where listeners were not looking at you, or not even able to see you? This can happen in any number of business situations: 

  • An industry event where you’re speaking to a huge crowd. You look like a tiny ant on stage, especially to the people in the back of the room.
  • Presenting financial information to analysts and investors, who aren’t looking at you because they are busy examining your slides and taking notes.
  • Delivering a webinar or a podcast, and there are no video capabilities.

In situations like these, clients often ask me, ”Is it worth spending the time to work on my delivery skills?”

In a word, yes! Here’s why.

Your physical resources help communicate your message

When you know people won’t be looking at you, it’s tempting to take the easy way out and not think about your delivery skills. This is a missed opportunity, because everything you do (or don’t do) to engage your body comes through in your voice.

When your body is not animated, your voice comes out flat and just plain dull. If you sound bored with your own message, why should your audience pay attention to what you’re saying?

Even when you aren’t visible to your listeners, be sure to focus on the following:

  • Posture. Standing straight and tall (even when sitting!) gives you confidence and helps you own your message.
  • Movement. Walking with purpose and gesturing contribute to the energy that listeners hear in your voice.
  • Facial expression. Smile! When you’re listening to someone on the phone, can’t you hear it when they are smiling? Your audience will also hear your emotion and passion for your subject, even if they aren’t looking at you.
  • Vocal expression and variety. The way you use and vary your tone, pace and volume can have a great effect on how your message comes across to your audience. For example, use pauses for emphasis and note how the energy of your delivery changes immediately.

Learn more from this article: “Vocal Delivery: Take Command of Your Voice

Content drives delivery.

Here’s how I often explain this point to my clients: your content is the engine that drives your delivery. When you’ve carefully prepared exactly the right message, and you wholeheartedly believe in that message, it comes through in your delivery. Even when your audience can’t see you, they will hear your conviction.

Here’s how to prepare content that engages in every situation:

  • Know your audience. What’s important to your listeners about your topic?
  • Craft your core message. Make it succinct, make it clear, and make it memorable.
  • Frame your content so you can deliver with credibility. To be believable, your content must be meaningful to you as well as to your audience. That’s why you’ll never be able to deliver someone else’s content as well as material you’ve developed yourself. Include examples and anecdotes that you can personally relate to.

Learn more from this article: “The One Thing You Must Do To Be Successful When You Speak.”

Another reason delivery matters at the end of the day

Beyond engaging your audience and achieving the results you’re after, your delivery affects your own sense of accomplishment. You want to walk away from every presentation knowing that you did your very best to ensure your audience understands your message and is able to take action.

When you do manage to engage your listeners, you can feel it, can’t you? It shows in people’s body language and in their eyes. Even when they aren’t looking at you, a tangible energy is projected.

If you merely stood up and recited every word of a memorized speech, chances are you won’t get that level of engagement and you won’t feel very satisfied with your performance.

Whether speaking live in front of an audience or presenting virtually, delivery always matters. It’s smart to make your time investment in preparation appropriate for the occasion at hand. But remember, an expressive delivery is one investment that will contribute to achieving your desired results!


Stephanie Scotti is a strategic communication advisor specializing in high-stake presentations. She has 25-plus years experience of coaching experience and eight years teaching presentation skills for Duke University. She has provided presentation coaching to over 3,000 individuals in professional practices, Fortune 500 companies, high-level government officials and international business executives. Learn more at and

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