Maintain control and attention

I watched a speaker use a very interesting public speaking technique today to maintain control of her audience. She was speaking about web development and there was someone in the audience who was also a web developer who knew as much as she did and maybe more.

A very simple technique

There were a number of questions during her presentation, as training people about web development can be complex. From time to time the expert in the audience would add his comment to her answers or would answer the question himself. He was trying to add value but his action drew focus and attention away from the primary public speaker. And to her credit the speaker held control of the room using a very, very simple technique.

She rephrased his words

She simply waited for the other expert to finish his explanation of the point and then she rephrased it in her own words. Now the interesting thing that happens here is that the audience member provided the information but in the audience’s mind, the final answer came from the presenter, not the person who provided the original information.

Own the room

I’ve always maintained that a speaker must ‘own the room’ both for her own sake and the audience’s. After all, the audience came to hear information from the person who is speaking, not from the audience members. That doesn’t mean I discourage speakers from allowing audience members to make comments. In fact I support that a hundred percent, because an interactive audience is a more attentive audience.

You are the expert

When you have a situation where someone is providing information during your presentation, training yourself to re-phrase his or her comments will help you keep control of your audience.  The audience will then associate that information with you because you were the last person they heard it from.

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About Thomas Moss

Thomas Moss is a speaker, writer and coach who provides business communications services, primarily in the Greater Toronto Area, including Oshawa, Whitby, Ajax, Pickering, Markham, Richmond Hill, Newmarket, Vaughan, Brampton and Mississauga. Service is also available outside of the GTA.

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