How do you start your speeches? And, how do you keep your listener’s attention?
A few speakers begin their messages with an interesting illustration or a series of jokes, then think they can be as dull as a rusty axe throughout the remaining amount of presenting time, yet keep the undivided attention of listeners.
But the nature of attention is such that it won’t continue to be active except if it is continually stimulated. Attention is rather like an auctioneer’s cry: Going -going -gone!
The average span of attention is from 3 – 8 seconds only. Therefore if a public speaker does not say or do something to maintain attention, the typical listener’s mind are going to be elsewhere in just a few seconds. Many subjects, other than the one the speaker has selected, invite attention. A listener might be looking directly at a speaker but contemplating yesterday’s ball game, tomorrow’s date, next weeks vacation. A public speaker, to be highly effective, must grab a persons attention so securely they cannot, or perhaps do not want to turn their attention from his speech.
To achieve this, of course, all the material a public speaker uses has to be intriguing. And this interest will be increased when public speakers present their material, in as far as possible, in words that create vibrant mental pictures in the listeners mind.
As an example, Brad Jnr said, “I saw Mademoiselle Minnie Curves wiggle-walking to the apple polishers’ row.” The term “wiggle-walking” illustrates Minnie much more obviously than a page filled with phrases such as: Her manner indicated that the young lady desired the interest of men; she moved in a manner designed to appeal to the interest of men, or, she was a young lady who indicated by the voluptuous way she manipulated her external extremities that she had a promiscuous perspective toward members of the opposite sex.
Next is a genuine human interest tale. However it is told in a general, non-picture-making, dull manner:
Once upon a time a person stopped at a restaurant for refreshment.
As he neared the cafe he noticed the owner standing in the entrance. Evidently the proprietor was unhappy about something. Her manner was not at all good-natured as the prospective patron neared. In fact, the condition of human interaction was so inharmonious that ultimately the potential customer left without purchasing anything.
Here’s the very same tale in a talking picture framework:
During the great depression of the 1930′s, when a nickel could buy a box of aspirin or get in touch with your sweetie on the telephone, an adolescent guy known as Roy stopped at a small restaurant in the suburbs of a city in Texas.
As Roy started to go into the cafe he observed a large lady standing right in the entrance, right behind the screen.
He believed she would step aside and let him enter. But instead she demanded in a standard irritated mother-in-law’s voice: “Just what do you want?”
Roy’s brown eyes widened and his young mouth parted in astonishment. But he was able to ask, “I would just like a cone of ice cream, please.”
“We ain’t got any!” the woman snapped.
Roy looked at her for an instant, and that was enough.
That woman would have to sneak up on the dipper to get a drink of water. Her large hatchet face had a scowl on it that could have put a Texas “norther” to shame.
However , Roy did not give up – yet. He tried again with, “Then I would like a bar of candy.”
“We ain’t got any of that either!” was the reply. And click! She secured the screen door right in his face.
Roy looked up at the Pepsi Cola sign on the restaurant, but he thought, what is the use in asking about?
As he turned to leave he overheard some other female in the cafe say, “I wonder what he really wanted, anyway?”
“I have no idea,” said the large lady in the doorway, “but I’d my rifle ready!”
The power of picture talking can help you be a more effective public speaker. This is what the two examples used above were to show. You ma not like the examples, but I think you may agree they illustrate the point. Any how, if you want to know more about using picture talking and become an effective public speaker, check out our free e-course by entering your details in the box to the right.