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Ways to Capture and Hold Attention, Part 1
After a recent Wednesday Connection gathering I spoke at for the North Campus at Long Lake Park, one of our pastors asked about how I held the attention of those gathered. “Coach us,” he said.
So, with the start of school just around the corner, highlighting the importance of capturing and holding the attention of listeners is the topic for today and tomorrow.
Capturing and holding attention is simultaneously an art and a science. To the degree that attention-grabbing is a science, is learnable, is transferrable—here are 24 suggestions that come to mind. ...
1. Ask God for help—specifically to the end that you be captivating with your message, capturing and holding the attention of young and old. Ask him to give them attentive ears, minds, and hearts.
2. Ask, “If Jesus were going to say something at this gathering, what would he say?”
3. Ask other good speakers how they do it. Don’t expect all the good advice to be in this short list.
4. Know more about your subject than you have time to unpack for your listeners. That knowledge can directly and indirectly foster the impression “there’s more that he’s not saying … what else?”
5. Move. Motion arrests the eye. Move your face (expressiveness). Move your arms (gestures). Move your posture (straighten up like a soldier, lean way over the podium toward them, bend at the waste and lean toward them as you make eye contact from one side of the audience to the other while swiveling from east to west). Move your feet (step back, step forward, step around the podium, pace, climb on something). Use these motions only if they fit the point, and not just for the sake of motion.
6. Move purposefully, don’t just wander. The motions should relate to your subject, your listeners, your context.
7. Engage eye contact. Look at them. Invite them to look at you. “Do you see this object I’m holding?”
8. Looking directly at them, use enlivened inflection. No deadpan. No monotone. If you’re not feeling intensely about your subject, stop talking or talk about something else. Don’t drone from a manuscript (manuscripts are good, droning is not).
9. Pose an engaging question. For example: What’s the most important thing about you? What will block you if you ignore it? Would you like to know how to get your children to stop whining? How is the riddle of who killed Mrs. McGillicuddy in the garden solved?
10. Then set out to answer it. Unravel a mystery. Solve a riddle. Fix the problem.
11. Use visual aids that move and make the point for you. (Don’t just use visual aids to use visual aids.) Aids serve. Visual aids should serve the text.
12. Interrupt the message for periodic review. “Here’s what we’ve seen so far …”
To be continued tomorrow...