Thursday, March 24, 2011

Holding an Audience

I’ve been something of a student of speeches and presentations lately. One of the things that really stands out it that if you want to hold an audience, you have to make it clear to the audience that what you have to say is going to help them in some way and you have to do it quickly. At the very least, the audience how to understand that you are giving talking about something that they will be called to use. The same thing can be said of blog posts or pretty much any other form of communication.

Take a presentation by Nancy Duarte at TEDx East for example. She walks out on stage and says, “You have the power to change the world.” Now, contrast that with a TED presentation by Deb Roy. He walks out on stage and says, “Imagine if you could record your life.” He then shows a family picture of him and his wife bringing their son home from the hospital and how they recorded their lives and then used those recordings to trace the origins of language, words like water, etc. He even plays his son talking, attempting to say the word “water” over a period of one year.

It’s the same problem you run into when you try showing people the pictures from your vacation or of your grandkids. These are precious memories to you, but the people you are showing them to are attempting to flip through the pictures as quickly as they can without actually looking like they are flipping through them as fast as they can. If you want to communicate effectively and hold an audience, you have to provide them with something they can use.