Knowing how to avoid distractions while giving your speech is essential to speaking success. Whether you are speaking to a live audience, conducting a one-on-one interview or addressing a group of people via Facebook Live, it is easy to get distracted.
Not only can this derail your message, but it can also cause your audience to lose interest or feel unimportant.
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While you are speaking, you may get distracted for a number of different reasons.
You may be distracted by external influences, such as movement or noises that take your attention away from what you are saying. You may also be distracted because of internal factors, such as fear of public speaking, nervousness or even your own thoughts.
For example, if you have several other tasks to complete later in the day, you may lose your focus while thinking about the rest of your schedule.
Furthermore, if you are dealing with personal issues, such as a sick family member or relationship troubles, you may find it hard to concentrate on speaking.
You can stay focused and avoid distractions in public speaking by following these tips.
Some distractions are completely out of your control.
For example, if you are speaking to a room full of people, you can’t control whether a baby cries or someone coughs.
However, some distractions are within your control. If possible, try to choose a venue that is as quiet as possible. This is especially important if you are communicating via Facebook Live, Zoom or another online service.
If you notice objects in the room that may distract you, remove them before your speech if you can.
Prepare yourself in advance for this fact and plan to stay on task in spite of any distractions that may occur. Do your best to ignore them and continue your speech.
In some cases, a distraction is so noticeable that it will cause problems for your audience as well.
Instead of trying to ignore the distraction, direct the attention of the audience to it in a humorous way if possible and then continue speaking.
One of the best ways to stay on task during any speech or interview is to keep track of the time and have an idea of where you should be in the process at different intervals.
Use a small timer or clock somewhere near you to watch the time.
Adjust your speech as needed if you find that you aren’t on schedule.
But still, remember the power of the pause!
Do your best to avoid thinking about any serious personal problems or other issues not related to your speech while the speech is in progress.
Some people may recommend finding a “friendly face” in the audience to focus on during a speech. However, looking at only one person will not only make that audience member uncomfortable, but it will leave other members of the audience feeling ignored.
Instead, consider choosing several “friendly faces” or other focal points in the room and moving among them throughout the speech. Be sure to cover all of the audience so no one feels left out.
Distractions are sometimes inevitable when you are speaking to any number of people.
If you find that you are distracted, try to get yourself back on track as quickly as possible. If the distraction is noticeable to your audience, apologize briefly and resume the speech.
Consider keeping notecards or a sheet of paper with your most important points nearby while you are speaking in case you lose your train of thought entirely. Referring to notes may help you to recover and continue the speech more rapidly than you could on your own.
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