On August 22nd, 2o11 I blogged about the critical importance of building rapport with the audience in order to connect and keep their attention and focus. I used a the following quote to open the blog “…the language of conversation is primarily a language of rapport: a way of establishing connections and negotiating relationships”. – Deborah Tannen. Ph.D.
Now I have to revise and extent my remarks and viewpoint because of new information from the field of cognitive psychology. Recent studies by cognitive psychologists report that the key to keep a persons attention is only 8 seconds not 60 as reported in the past research. In researching the idea I discovered that the length of time the average human can concentrate on something and not lose focus is as little as 8 seconds. OMG just Eight seconds! Sixity seconds, then, was way too long for getting attention for your presentation. You know how you hear something in a conversation and you lean in because you want to hear the rest of it? That’s what you want from your audience in the first 8 seconds of your speech.
If you accomplish that in those 8 seconds, they’ll give you the next 5 minuets to drive your message home with no bull. It’s not establishing your credentials or reviewing the agenda. It’s about what’s in it for the audience members to go listening to your message.
Connecting with the audience is one of the most challenging elements of creating a climate for an interaction and engagement :
- You must be ready to start with high energy and hit your marks perfectively so to keep the audience engaged and curious about your topic
- Connecting is all about observation and building rapport and empathy. To do this you nee to show interest and understanding about your audience needs and problems.
- You need to know how to effectively open-up conversations. The skill of improvising and be attuned to audience feelings and distractions help you to customize your presentation as you go.
- You must find ways to engage and connect emotionally not just presenting facts, bullet point slides and logic.
- Having the audience answer why they are attending or interested in the presentation needs to be ask at least three times so as to uncover the members “unique” objective or goal for the session.