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5 Ways to Lose Your Audience

Dear Communicator,

I really do enjoy listening to presentations, sermons, and speeches.  In fact, every week I listen to dozens of them.  I have a decent attention span and if I have chosen to come and listen to you speak, I really do want to be engaged and be able to apply something new to my life.

Unfortunately, I was not engaged in your talk this time.  It is not because I didn’t want to be.  I genuinely wanted to be wrapped up in your content and presentation, but this time I checked out.

Why?  Well, it’s likely because of one of these five reasons.

1. You did not grab my attention in the beginning.

I will make a judgment about you within the first 30 seconds of your talk.  I can’t help it.  Like the rest of the audience, I’m wired that way.  You will make a first impression, whether you are intentional about it or not.  When you came out on the stage without a smile, with closed off body language, and with no greeting… I began tuning you out.

2. You failed to reel me into the tension.

Even though I have chosen to be a part of the audience, that doesn’t mean I care about the problem that you are trying to solve.  As the communicator, your job is to put me on the edge of my seat and make me long for a solution to the problem you are dealing with.  If you would have helped me feel the tension of your message, I would have tracked with you until you gave me a solution.

3. You never communicated a compelling bottom line.

If I take the time to listen to what you have to say, then I want to be able to take your information with me.  I want to make changes to my life, work, and relationships.  The problem is that you gave me too much information to apply and not a compelling point to internalize.  If you would have taken the same amount of time to craft a memorable point as you did to come up with all of those applications, I would have probably been able to take your talk with me.

4. You spoke at the same speed the entire talk.

You can deliver fantastic content, but if you speak at a rate that is too slow, too fast, or not varied, I cannot help but check out.  If you wanted to engage me throughout the entirety of your talk, I needed your rate of speech to vary depending on what you are saying.  I needed to be drawn in.  I needed you to communicate intensity.  I needed to be surprised.  All of these are affected by your ability to vary the rate of your speech.

5. You never engaged my heart.

At the end of the day, I am still an emotional being… at least at some level.  It is doubtful that I want to cry during your talk, but at the same time I need to feel it to fully engage with it.  Personal stories are a great way to connect my heart to your content, but you missed those opportunities at the beginning and at the end of your talk.