How to Read the Room: Advice from Professional Poker Player Alec Torelli

“The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.” – Peter Drucker

 

You can learn a lot about a person through their body language. Just ask professional poker player, Alec Torelli. In our fifth podcast episode, How to Read the Room, Alec shared his favorite strategies for assessing his competitors and customizing his approach to each individual player. 

 

Alec’s strategies aren’t strictly relevant to poker, either. They’re transferable to business, too! Similar to meeting someone new in the business world, your brain is subconsciously quantifying data to assess their legitimacy and trustworthiness. He stresses exactly how important this can be during business presentations, as well. 

 

Here are Alec’s top three recommendations for reading a room successfully. 

 

KNOW WHEN TO PIVOT

If your audience seems disengaged during a business presentation, it’s important to switch up your strategy for a more customized approach. Alec says the same is true in poker. Pay attention to your audience’s “tells” for feedback. Are they looking at their phone? Yawning or falling asleep? Staring off into the distance? 

 

Taking note of these nonverbal cues is crucial. Everything is a chance to do things differently and pivot the situation to your advantage. Alec notes, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over expecting a different result.” Instead, make adjustments in real-time to better engage your audience.

 

ARRIVE WELL-PREPARED 

Giving a company presentation while simultaneously reading the room can feel like an overwhelming amount of multitasking. That’s why Alec recommends being as well-prepared as possible. There should be no question or unforeseen circumstance that you’re not ready to answer. 

 

When you’re devising your keynote presentation, know who you are and what your unique lane or angle is. Recognize your personal monopoly that makes you better than everyone else at what you do. This allows you to deliver your business PowerPoint like a pro while reading the room without distraction.

 

ERASE PERSONAL BIASES 

Even the best of us are guilty of harboring our own personal biases that influence our decisions. Alec cautions us against this, stressing that our own emotions, agendas, preconceived ideas, or desired outcomes should never influence our performance. Be objective and leave your ego at home. This way you can make smart, informed decisions and accurately assess your audience.

Incorporate these helpful tips into your business presentations to elevate your communication skills today. Don’t miss Alec Torelli’s full podcast episode here.

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