Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Overcoming Your Audience's ADD

Those of us who teach public speaking are often asked how we deal with, and teach others how to speak with the ever-shortening attention spans that characterize modern audiences. It's also something that comes up with my coaching clients; sometimes a client comes to me with really deep concern about boring her ADD audience.

Some things to think about in preparing your next presentation or talk:

1. First of all, get clear in your mind that what you have to say is beneficial to your audience. Or...if you're just the messenger of a truly boring company policy, then find the benefit (it's gotta be in there somewhere!), and deliver the points as concisely as possible.

2. See if you can break it up into smaller, self-contained units. For example, and introduction, a preview of your 3 benefits, each benefit, and a conclusion. You've now got 6 units to present. Make each one short, to the point, and heavy on audience orientation.

3. Keep 'em busy. That has always been my favorite strategy for keeping my children and my students engaged. Think of exercises they can do, lists they can write, questions they can answer during your presentation.

4. Get creative with your visual support. Forget boring Power Points with mind-numbing bullet points. Maybe you can bring props, a costume, a box of surprises, or a poster. Connect your benefits to your visual. I once brought some hand-made pewter measuring spoons (they're very decorative) to show the board of an art museum how aesthetics can enhance our everyday life.

Make up your mind to be a powerful communicator and make it happen, one presentation at a time.