Even in the best of circumstances, public speaking is stressful and difficult.
Add in a distracted, disengaged or restless audience, and you’re in for a major challenge. All’s not lost, however, even if you’re saddled with an audience full of fidgeters, snoozers, kibbitzers or blank starers.
An infographic produced by Duarte offers helpful guidance for speakers looking to reclaim an audience adrift—or perhaps drifting off to sleep. Tips include:
- If you notice people looking at phones or laptops, that means they’re either bored or trying to multitask. To reel them back in, the graphic states that “you need to be more exciting than their technology,” and to try using “vocal variety,” “increasing your volume” or exiting the stage to walk among the attendees. If that all fails, you can always bellow something jarring into the mic, such as “Research shows that staring at screens during presentations leads to early death.”
- If you notice people leaving or going to the bathroom, consider taking a break. At the very least, “completely change the energy level,” or let the crowd know when a break is forthcoming. No matter how compelling your speech is, it’s always comforting for audience members to see light at the end of the presentation tunnel.
- If you notice people talking, they’re either uninterested or didn’t understand what you said. Either way, the infographic suggests making more eye contact and asking the audience if they have any questions.
Presenters today have their work cut out for them. Humans have terrible attention spans, and most of us have the ultimate distraction device in our purse or pocket at all times. However, with a bit of practice, prep and patience, it is possible to captivate (or reengage) a crowd.
Please enjoy the rest of Duarte’s advice to reclaim your audience’s attention—before they’re too far gone.
Tags: executive communication