Getting people to pay attention to what you say: ah, now that is a challenge every school teacher, advertiser, and director of marketing has been trying to figure out since the dawn of time. Anyone who has ever been in a position of authority will realize this can be difficult. So, if you are faced with this problem, what are some of the methods you can use to defeat the poor attention span of your audience?

Well, first realize the root cause of the problem. In our modern, high-tech high-speed world, people are bombarded on a daily basis with all manner of images - sights and sounds come at them from iPods, TV, radio, the Internet, and so on and so forth. So, if you stand before someone and just try to speak in a flat monotone voice - something like what Ben Stein did in the movie "Ferris Bueller's Day Off"; you are going to have the same affect on your audience as he did on his students. You are going to put them to sleep!

So, how to liven them up? Step one, figure out what sort of audience you are going to be speaking to. After all, if you talk to a bunch of senior citizens, they are quite a different group to some high school seniors. For that matter, highly gifted students are quite different from a group of "special needs" students. So, you must tailor your talk to your audience. Also, speaking to a group is different to speaking to an individual.

Next, look for ways to relate what you are talking about to what is important in their lives. Let us take the example of the high school students. You want to talk to them about the importance of learning to write. Oh, can't you just see their eyes rolling back in their heads as you try to sell them on that? If at all possible, have some sort of audio/visual presentation. These days, just about anyone can do a PowerPoint presentation. So, make use of that. By giving them things to look at, you can stimulate attention.

Also, don’t preach. Involve your audience and speak on their Level. So, when talking about writing, talk about books that are of interest to them. Don't drone on about the classics, use recent books that they would like to hear about. If you are talking to minority students, maybe mention how Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had to write out his famous "I Have a Dream" speech in order to learn it. Maybe show a clip of the speech. The moral here is: make what you are saying relevant to your audience. Make them care about what you are saying.

If you are trying to get someone to a reprimand or a Warning, avoid being confrontational. Appreciate your Audience’s point of view.

There is also the issue of the time and place of your talk. If you give your speech early in the morning or late in the day, people might be tired. Also, if they are hungry, they will be less likely to pay attention. If the room you are in is very hot or cold, your audience will be uncomfortable and not inclined to listen to you. If you can, make sure you are speaking in an area where there are few distractions and the ambience, temperature etc is pleasant.

Finally, there is the old classic rule about leaving them wanting more. Often, the best way to catch people's attention is with humor. A few jokes, at the right places of your speech can help to keep your audience focused on you. If you’re an entertaining and interesting speaker, people will be more likely to listen to you throughout what you have to say.

Author's Bio: 

Peter Murphy is a peak performance expert. He recently produced a very popular free report: 10 Simple Steps to Developing Communication Confidence. Apply now because it is available for a limited time only at: communication skills