One of the most important lessons we teach speakers is this:

Your goal is to change the way audiences Think, Feel or Act.

One of the biggest mistakes speakers make is that they often cause people to think too much.


Isn’t that a contradiction?

At first glance, yes. But, here’s the difference:

When we say that your goal is to change the way audiences think, this is what we mean:

Your speech should inspire people to consider the implication of your message. They should think about how it applies to their lives. 

For instance, as a speaking skills coach, I have an important task: 

Help people understand the importance of public speaking to their careers.

Financial planners often have to persuade audiences to re-think the value of saving.

Nutritionists must change people’s perception of eating healthier foods.

When presenters do well, their messages affect audiences long after they speak. People think about the implication of their message to their lives.

Contrast this type of thinking with the kind you don’t want:

Audience members getting lost in thought because you’ve confused them.

This occurs when you make references to people or concepts they’re not familiar with.  

This is a common problem. I recently experienced this when coaching a member of our online university, Lisa. She was telling a captivating story of how she had lost a large amount of weight.

One part of her story involved being on a TV show focused on weight loss. One of the hosts was John Cena. 

She shared this part of her story, and then moved on to the next story. At that point we stopped her.

We said, “Lisa, imagine you’re in the audience and you heard that reference to John Cena, and don’t know who he is.”

She thought for a moment and said, “I guess it would distract me. I probably wouldn’t hear the next thing the speaker said.


Make a reference that your audience isn’t familiar with, and they immediately stop listening to you. Instead, these kinds of thoughts run their heads: 

‘Who’s John Cena?’

Or, ‘John Cena…. John Cena. Isn’t he an entertainer? Football? Wrestling?’

Or, ‘Isn’t he that actor guy?’

Whatever they’re thinking, you’re in trouble. The people distracted by this reference are not listening to you. They’re ‘lost in thought’ and not hearing the next part of your speech.

You know what this means for the rest of your speech, right?

A missed opportunity to make a lasting impression.

How do you solve this problem?

It’s actually easy.

In the John Cena example above, Lisa could have set up the reference like this:

One of the stars of the show was former wrestler turned actor John Cena.”

That’s it! One sentence that gives the person’s background. 

Lisa plans to change her story. She’ll say something like that to introduce John Cena. The audience will immediately know who he is. They’ll stay focused and hear what she says next.

One of your most important goals as a speaker should be to change the way people think. But, don’t make them think too much during your presentation.

Avoid this problem, and they’ll think about the implication of your talk long AFTER you speak.


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How to Keep Your Audience From Getting Lost in Thought ultima modifica: 2019-01-06T17:00:53-05:00 da Michael Davis