Home Youth Leaders Articles for Youth Leaders How to Teach Teens When They Are Not Listening

How to Teach Teens When They Are Not Listening

If you have the luxury of multiple spaces, this is a great way to break the tension of a distracted group and to give yourself a do-over on the message you were hoping to give in the first place.

If you can’t change rooms, then do something different with the room you’re in. Dim the lights, or ask everyone to face the opposite direction for the remainder of the session.

Dramatically alter your speaking style.

If you usually stand, sit; and if you usually sit, stand. Speak louder and be more animated than usual or make yourself much quieter and more reserved. These kinds of techniques are a cue to people that it’s time to get serious. Usually, they work.


It’s OK to interrupt your talk with a spontaneous prayer. After all, if you’ve found yourself in a situation where you’ve lost the attention of the people in the room, you could use some prayer …

… and so could they.

Besides, even the most rambunctious crowds still reserve some reverence for the act of prayer, and getting them to be silent with eyes closed for a few moments isn’t the worst way to get them calmed down again.

Anything else?

Now it’s your turn, and I want to ask you to masochistically imagine yourself in the middle of a talk that’s gone wrong. What would you do to regain the attention of the room? Tell me about it in the comments.  

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Aaron Helman is on a mission to help end the epidemic of youth worker burnout. He writes at Smarter Youth Ministry to help youth workers with their biggest frustrations—things like leading volunteers, managing money, and communicating effectively. He is also the youth minister at Firehouse Youth Ministries in South Bend, Indiana.