Anyone who has attended or observed one of my courses, workshops or conference sessions has heard me ask the audience the question “Why Do You Care?”
Initially, I asked the question as a gentle “wake-up” statement to catch the weary, overworked audience’s attention. (Side note: The 4-hour training class occurred after their normal 12 hour shift had concluded for the day. The 3rd floor classroom had a panoramic, sunset view of Miami Beach.) After observing the immediate, rapt attention of my audience, I began to weave the attention getting statement into my classes when appropriate.
It had become my signature phrase to:
- “Cut to the chase” and focus on the core content within a topic
- Quickly summarize and conclude a topic
- Regain the rapt attention of the audience
Alternately, this signature phrase, used consciously and sparingly, served to remind me to align the current topic content to the needs of audience, i.e. doing their job better and faster, solving a problem or learning a new skill. A recent article entitled “Principals of Adult Learning” received via email anonymously, suggested that adults prefer that the content be relevant and related immediately to the learner’s current experiences, and focused on their individual needs.
In fact, a co-trainer sitting in the back of the classroom, who was reviewing the topics she would present in the afternoon, stated that when she heard the words “Why do You Care?”, she knew something important was coming next and she needed to stop and pay attention.
Keeping Audience Attention
Rana Sinha, in the article entitled “Presentations Skills – How to Grab and Keep Audience Attention During a Presentation”, indicates there are numerous methods to grab and maintain the audience’s attention, including classroom stunts or telling jokes. However, if these attention-getting techniques are not relevant to the course content, the audience’s minds may quickly wander. Sinha highlights alternative methods of getting and keeping the audience’s attention, including:
Asking a relevant question
Tell a pertinent story
Cite a applicable quotation
State an “topic appropriate” joke
In the Forbes.com article entitled “10 Ways Great Speakers Capture People’s Attention” by Sam Wyeth, he emphasizes and encourages trainers to “make it about them” – the audience.
Make it Important
Construct the content as relevant and focused on the audience needs. Deliberate the question, “Why did your audience attend your training session”? We can safely assume that no one attends a workplace training class due to lack of work or because they are no longer overworked or suddenly relieved of their “doing less with more” work responsibilities. Demonstrate how the course content is significant and valid to their current workplace responsibilities.
After 20+ years of conducting organizational training for 20,000+ participants within 22+ states, on 3 continents, the success of those events indicate that I delivered the required content in timely and relevant methods and address the participant’s needs – at least the majority of the time.
However, just in case an audience member missed the relevant point(s), by summarizing with a “Why Do You Care?” statement, it reminds the audience why this particular content is beneficial and germane in a visible, clearly stated method.
Multiple Learning Styles
Since I am a visual person, both as a learner and presenter, I typically summarize the relevant points and objectives on a whiteboard or within a slide presentation during the discussion. This extra step ensures the topic(s) are summarized for both the audio and visual learners within the audience.
What is your signature activity?