A Natural Attention Principle For Speakers

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In public speaking one of the keys is to get and keep your audience’s attention.  Here is a way to get their attention quickly that uses an advertising secret.

Advertisers know the value of moving objects. Notice the many lively neon lights inviting people into front doors. Every­thing from multicolored dancing pigs to starry rockets. But how active are exit signs? One never dances a jig. Customers must be attracted to enter, so “Come on in” signs are made to grab attention. As a departing customer adds nothing to company-funds, exit signs are made no more attractive than necessary.

Objects which appear or move in unusual ways compel at­tention. For instance, J. C. Penney store managers have displayed a floating hat in their front windows. Air pressure from a con­cealed source caused a man’s hat to “float” in the air. A person who is at all observant could hardly pass one of those windows without noticing the floating hat, and consequently the brief ad­vertising statements about it.

Speakers can use this natural attention-getting principle to advantage. For instance, an insurance agent, who was taking a course in business and professional speaking, used a set of “magic”‘ false teeth to show that many people talk without saying much.

As he tossed the teeth upon a table, a hidden spring caused them to bounce around and go, clack-a-tee, clack-a-tee, clack, clack, clackl

“That’s all some people do!” declared the speaker. “They just ‘yak-a-tee-yak!’ ”

Another speaker used a similar set o£ teeth to “break the ice” after being introduced to an audience. He said, “I must be care­ful what I say tonight. I’ve found it, pays, ever since a man in one of my audiences looked at me with narrow eyes like a TV cowboy about ready to draw his six-shooter. Very slowly he put his hand into his coat pocket, like this. Was he going to shoot me? He pulled from his pocket not a gun, but this.” When the speaker displayed the clattering teeth the audience laughed. And they laughed again when a well-known dentist called from the front row, “Say, I’ll buy those!”

Think about how you can use a visual aid in your next speech to break the ice or illustrate a point. I’ll follow up with some more examples of visual aids speakers have used in their speeches in my next post.

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