5 ways to minimize distractions and gain more listeners

Distractions, just like life, are going to happen. But you can improve your delivery and remain connected with your audience by minimizing the distractions that may be in your presentations.

Here are 5 ways to get started.

  1. Eliminate unnecessary text – If your audience can read your entire presentation from your slide on the screen, you have made yourself unnecessary. It’s that simple. You hold all of the information and your slides are for emphasis. Make yourself necessary by putting the attention back on you.
  2. Clothes matter – Make sure that you can move in the clothes you are wearing for your talk. Clothing that needs constant adjustment won’t work. And men–remember that the day of your presentation isn’t the time to wear that overly bold tie. For the ladies–don’t put on those extra dangly or overly large hoop earrings. The focus should be on your face and not your accessories.
  3. Move on purpose – Your movements should be intentional and add emphasis to your presentation. You will gain more attention by standing still and directing your energy into your facial expression, voice, and gestures. A good time to move, a few steps to the left or right is during the transitions of your speaking points. This will help you keep your audiences’ attention and move them with you to your next idea.
  4. Project your voice – If people have to strain to hear you, they won’t for very long. Make sure the person in the back of the room is as engaged by your voice as the one in the front. You may need to lower the tone of your voice to help it travel farther.
  5. Acknowledge the distraction – Inevitably a loud air-conditioner will turn on at the moment you most need the attention of your audience or it could be a technical glitch that everyone notices. By drawing attention to the distraction with your words, you allow your audience to admit they were distracted and everyone can move forward together. Otherwise, they spend time wondering if you even heard it or how you could have possibly ignored it, taking their attention away from you and your message.

Paying attention to your presentation–in all its parts–will allow your audience to return the favor.

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How to Earn Your Audience’s Attention in 30 Seconds Flat

It has been said that an audience decides in the first 30 seconds of a presentation whether or not to listen.

That doesn’t sound like very long but think back to the  last time you were part of an audience.

The speaker may have shuffled papers on the way to the front of the room with his face buried. Maybe he was still organizing his notes along the way. For some reason, he felt the need to look down while he was sharing his first thoughts. He looked unprepared, bored, and disinterested. You began to question his ability to even communicate on the subject and wondered what he could possibly know that you didn’t already.

How long would you give that speaker? It’s very likely that you wouldn’t listen much past his introduction, if you made it that far.

There are many  elements at work in those first few seconds, but remembering these three simple things will put you well on your way to earning the attention of your audience.

  1. Stand tall — We can tell if someone even wants to be in the room by the posture they use. How you hold yourself physically sends a loud and clear message to your audience without saying a word. Stand tall and hold your head high, even while walking to the front of a room. When an audience sees a confident speaker they see a credible speaker.
  2. Make eye contact — Are you introducing yourself, your topic, or taking the time to deliver a great attention-getter? It will fall flat if your eyes are not on your audience. Make eye contact with a small group of the audience for a sustained thought of your presentation. Then navigate the room, one small group at a time, one thought at a time. We trust and connect with someone who can look us in the eye.
  3. Use smile power — Don’t underestimate the power of a smile. Smiling people are generally taken to be more likable. Likability increases your credibility, as does being genuine. Forcing emotion won’t work. Use the natural expressions you would in a conversation.

You step confidently to the front of the room. Instead of looking at your notes, you know your first words and look directly at your audience, making sure to address the entire room. Your facial expression is welcoming, adding emphasis to your words and making it easier to understand your overall meaning. It is as if you are simply talking to the audience, holding a one-on-one conversation. You take the time to connect, and your audience responds by doing the same.

Chances are you’ll earn more than 30 seconds of your audience’s time.