5 ways speakers can win back a distracted audience

You might not grab celebrity-level adulation every time you ascend the podium and dive into your presentation, but you can thwart common attention thieves by using these techniques.

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How to win back a distracted audience

Just about all public speakers, before they take the stage, feel fear and trepidation.

Most have questions like, “What if I forget what I was saying?” or “What if I run into tech issues?” Generally, with enough preparation, those problems can be avoided.

What a speaker can’t plan for is distractions. You never know when those are going to pop up. Maybe there was a loud noise in the corridor, or a bird flew through the window. Maybe someone in the audience has bolted out of the room. No one can plan for such occurrences.

Some distractions aren’t so odd or unusual; people will probably tap on their smartphones or tablets. Maybe they’re tweeting out your latest nugget of brilliance, but some might have checked out in favor of Candy Crush.

If you don’t get their attention back, you could lose them for good, and your entire presentation will have been a loss.

Here are five tactics to hold your audience’s attention:

1. Embrace cellphone use.

Do not ban mobile devices. Asking for such obedience up front signals a lack of control, and you come across like a teacher scolding the students.

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