3 Ways To Keep A Distracted Audience’s Attention

How are you going to keep an audience's attention?
How are you going to keep an audience’s attention?
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A really good jamming device. That’s what most speakers would like to bring to their next speech. That way their audience couldn’t forget about the importance of public speaking and instead spend their time texting and tweeting instead of listening to them. However, we do live in the 21st Century and so distractions are almost a way of life. What can we do as speakers to grab and hold on to our audience’s attention?

Expose Yourself

“If you can’t beat them, then join them.” We’ve all heard that phrase and when it comes to a distracted audience these words ring true. All too often you’ll hear a speaker start a speech by telling his or her audience to “silence and put away your phones”. Do you really think that everyone is going to do this?

A different way of going about this (and a great way to connect with your audience) is to expose yourself. At the start of your speech tell your audience that you understand their situation. Let them know that you know that they’ve got a choice: listen to you or stay on top of everything else that is happening in their lives. Let them know that you’re ok with them continuing to use their cell phones while you talk; however, caution them that you’re going to be covering things that just might change their lives – they might want to listen.

By doing this you will have admitted to your audience that you are in competition with their phones. They will feel more relaxed with you and won’t feel the need to sneak a look at their phones while you are talking

Ask For Participation

One of the best ways to stay on top of your audience’s distractions is to find a way to use it to your advantage. A good way to go about doing this is to ask your audience to participate in your speech with you.

There are a lot of different ways to go about doing this. You can ask them questions and have them answer you or you can have them talk amongst themselves. Either way, it’s hard to remain distracted when the speaker has you taking action – now you have to stay in the moment!

Become A Guide

One of the reasons that an audience can become distracted and slip away from you is because your speech reminds them of being in school. For whatever reason, your audience may push back when they start to view you at the teacher and themselves as sitting in yet another classroom.

A great way to get around this issue is to not play the role of the teacher who knows everything. Instead, play the role of a guide. Don’t worry about the phones and tablets that you see popping up in your audience. Instead, take them on a journey from the start of your speech to your final conclusions. The ones who want to hear what you have to say will come along and anyone else won’t be a bother.

What All Of This Means For You

The next time that you give a speech you need to realize that your audience has other options instead of listening to what you have to say. It’s going to be your job as the speaker to share the benefits of public speaking with them by both grabbing and holding on to their attention.

Three great ways to go about doing this include starting your speech off by sharing yourself with your audience. Admit that you are competing with their mobile phones and tell them why they should be listening to you. Don’t allow your audience to sit quietly in their seats. Ask for their participation – ask questions during your speech. Finally, instead of being the person who knows everything, position yourself as a guide who will be revealing secrets to your audience.

There are some very nice mobile phones out there that can do amazing things. That’s who you are going to be competing with the next time you give a speech. Use the three tips that we’ve covered and you’ll be able to hold on to your audience’s attention the next time you give a speech.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: How often do you think that you should ask for your audience’s participation during a 30 minute presentation?

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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site www.Toastmasters.org. Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

All too often when we are starting out a speech we’ll ask our audience to put away their cell phones so that they can pay attention to us. We believe in the importance of public speaking and so we don’t want our audience to be distracted by Facebook and Twitter, we want them to be hanging on our every word. However, is it possible that we’ve gotten this all wrong? Could Twitter actually be our friend? Is it possible to < a title="What is Twitter?" href=" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twitter ">use Twitter to make our next speech even better?