Speech coach Joey Asher of Atlanta writes on the Speechworks blog about the bane of public speakers -- how do you deal with people in the audience pecking away at their keyboards and tapping on their smart phones?
“I don’t think you should ask people to turn off their smartphones. I think it’s patronizing and rude. Your job is to be so engaging that no one will consider looking at their phones,” he says.
Your job is to be more intriguing than a smartphone. The first key to beating back the Blackberries is to focus solely on solutions to your listeners’ most vital challenges.
Let’s say that you’re not certain of your audience’s most vital business needs. Then call some audience members in advance and say, “I want to make sure that you find my presentation more interesting than anything you have on your iPhone. So could you tell me what you would like me to talk about?”
Next, make your presentation a conversation, not a speech. If people are asking you questions, they’re not looking at their iPads.
Here’s a great way to get people to put away their mobile devices at the beginning of a presentation. Start the presentation by asking a question of the audience. “I’d like everyone to team up with the person next to them and write down three things that make winning business difficult.” Such questions immediately engage the audience.
Finally, speak with more passion than a Siri app. I was working this week with a salesman for a large food company. His passion made me want to pay attention.
So if you find a lot of people are tapping out emails during your presentations, take the hint. Find a way to be more engaging.
Joey Asher is President of Speechworks, a selling and communication skills coaching company in Atlanta. He has worked with thousands of business people helping them learn how to communicate in a way that connects with clients. His new book 15 Minutes Including Q&A: a Plan to Save the World from Lousy Presentations” is available now. He is also the author three previous books including “How to Win a Pitch: The Five Fundamentals That Will Distinguish You from the Competition”, “Selling and Communication Skills for Lawyers” and “Even A Geek Can Speak.” He can be reached at 404-266-0888 or firstname.lastname@example.org.