Public Speaking: Distractions

January 9th, 2009 by Frank Damelio

iStock_RaisedHandsSmallI just did a presentation at the Boston Garden, home to the Celtics and Bruins.  We were in the executive suite well before the game began.  In the middle of my presentation, the organ music began spewing it’s peppy tunes.  OUCH!

What to do with distractions while you present?

Here is a trick that teachers use for preschool and elementary education.  It is also a neat technique that I used when I performed kids birthday parties.  It is equally effective for corporate audiences. Ask any question that will have about a 50/50 yes/no response and ask the people who said “yes” to raise their hands and keep them up so we can tally.  Here is a sample question I asked: “how many of you belong to a professional association?  Keep your hands up so I can tally.”  I was talking about the value of association memberships from a networking perspective; so the question I conjured fit right it.

I know this sounds super-simple, but it immediately brings EVERYONE back to focus.  While you need to avoid over-using it, you can get away with tossing out a “tally” question every 10-15 minutes.  This technique is almost unmatched in its power to pull them back to you.

Go forth and use your new-found power only for good!

What tricks do you have to reel them back in?  Please share!

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3 Responses to “Public Speaking: Distractions”

  1. Bella Says:

    This is interesting. I never even thought about it, but it’s true. Any time I am in the audience and the presenter does something similar, I always re-focus and start paying attention. I really enjoy your blogs and I have really started to notice little differences with different presenters and I find myself analyzing what they are doing right and what they are doing wrong. Since reading some of your tips – I am able to seperate the people who know what they are doing from the ones who don’t.

    Also – I do actually have my own trick for reeling them back in and it always seems to work.

  2. Frank Damelio Says:

    Bella, I always enjoy your feedback. Just by analyzing other speakers you will find that you become a better presenter due to increased awareness. When you present you will naturally avoid doing the things that detract while focusing on the techniques that enhance your delivery.

  3. Mike Thomas Says:

    This is a clever tip, Frank. Definitely something I hadn’t thought about before!

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