Reading Remote Audiences: Postures and Gestures

Reading Remote Audiences: Postures and Gestures shows you what remote body language can tell you about your audience. What is the difference between posture and gesture? What do certain postures and gestures mean in the context of a remote demo? Only 30% of communication is verbal and if you are delivering a demo to a remote audience, without nonverbal comprehension, you are at a distinct disadvantage. Learning to distinguish postures and gestures while demoing can close your deals more quickly because you adapt your script and presentation in time. This is another way to meet the audience where they are at.

What is the difference between Postures and Gestures 

Gestures are movements of parts of your body and postures are the positioning of the entire body to communicate an emotion or sentiment. For remote audiences we will be focusing on eye movements, facial expressions, seated postures, and hand movements. It is important to note that the postures and gestures we will be outlining below are specific to Western culture. For more information on reading body language for international demos and audiences, we offer Inclusive Demo Audits, click here. 


Some postures are more demonstrative than others and seated postures can be more difficult to read, but the basics are below. 

Closed Posture

Closed seated postures are typified by closed arms, crossed legs, averted eyes, or strong/ challenging stare, and the body placed at an angle. This posture indicates a lack of receptivity to what you are presenting. When you see many members of your audience exhibiting closed postures it indicates a lack of interest or dissent. Redirect your demo or get to a point.

Open Posture 

Open postures are typified by hands apart, leaning forward, and directly facing you or the camera. When an audience is engaged they will likely exhibit open postures, but not necessarily. Be aware of the gestures that accompany postures to make sure your audience is engaged. 

Mirroring and Proxemics 

Mirroring occurs when an audience is engaged and they mimic your postures subconsciously. You can mirror their postures as well to promote engagement. Proxemics are the physical space a person occupies and does not apply in remote demos. 

Try to gauge if your audience maintains open postures or mirroring. If they do, then you are on the right track. When you find your audience exhibiting closed postures, you might take the opportunity to ask a question of the audience.


There are two categories of gesture and they are largely made with the face and hands, both within view during a remote presentation or demo. The categories are emblems and illustrators. Below we apply these to demos and presentations. 


Emblems are cross cultural gestures, such as head nodding, hand waving, and shrugging shoulders. These should be very easy to read, whether you are remote demoing or not. Be aware that there are many emblems that are red flags cross culturally, we can help train for this here. 


Illustrators are gestures used at the same time as verbal communication. Examples include pointing when giving directions and nodding in agreement. Most illustrators used during demos will be reassuring, but you may encounter illustrators if someone is making an objection to your product.

For these basic body language combinations of illustrators, emblems, open and closed posture, there are very obvious signals and you likely consciously recognize them. Our courses offer more detailed exercises in reading cold audiences. Course Catalog here.

Reading Remote Audiences: Postures and Gestures:Checked out Cheat Sheet 

If your audience exhibits any of the following postures or gestures, redirect your demo, or try to regain their focus, because they have checked out. 

  • Overly Enthusiastic 
  • Sunken Chest 
  • Knitted Brow and Averted Eyes 
  • Raised Shoulders 
  • Altered Breathing 
  • Averted or Rapidly Moving Eyes

At Demo Solutions, we know not all remote audiences are easily engaged. By reading gestures and postures, you have the chance to re-engage and close. These are just some of what we teach in Demo Coaching and our Demo Course Catalog, if you want to learn more, let’s chat!

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