If Audience Yawns, It May be A Compliment!

Next time you’re giving a speech and you see people yawning, you shouldn’t immediately be offended. It may be a compliment, a sign that your listeners are so fascinated that they’re trying extra hard to pay attention.

That’s the conclusion of State University of New York at Albany researchers Andrew C. Gallup and Gordon G. Gallup Jr. in a study outlined in the May 2007 issue of Evolutionary Psychology.

The psychologists, who studied yawning in college students, concluded that yawning is a way of cooling the brain and making it operate more effectively.   The brain burns up to a third of the calories we consume, and as a consequence generates heat.  According to Gallup and Gallup, our brains, like computers, operate more efficiently when cool.  Yawning enhances the brain’s functioning by increasing blood flow and drawing in cooler air.

“Since yawning occurs when brain temperature rises, sending cool blood to the brain serves to maintain optimal levels of mental efficiency,” the authors wrote.  “So the next time you are telling a story and a listener yawns, there is no need to be offended – yawning, a physiological mechanism designed to maintain attention, turns out to be a compliment.”

On the other hand, if your audience is actually snoring, you probably need to get some coaching.

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