A major cause of trainers being unreceptive to their audience is stage fright. Being so self-involved the trainer has very little energy to devote to making personal contact. It is not unusual for this to happen, and there are ways to avoid it. You can capture and hold an audience's attention if you begin by giving your listeners your attention first.
Never in the course of the presentation lose sight of the fact that you are speaking to people. Keep what is said on a personal level. Speak directly to individuals. Never slip out of focus and begin talking to the room in general.
There is nothing wrong with talking to yourself in private. It can be a constructive emotional safety valve. Many trainers, however, talk to themselves in public when they train without the audience's attention. Their training presentations are boring and dry, and waste both their own and their listeners' time. It is crucial that a trainer learn how to gauge the level of audience attention. Without audience attention, you might just as well pack up your notes, aids, projector, easel charts, and go home. There is nothing to train but an empty room.
Many trainers unconsciously place themselves in opposition to their audiences, and this comes through in their delivery. People are more likely to listen to someone who agrees with them. It is almost always possible to find some area of agreement with which to begin, even if it is nothing more than the mutuality of the audience's and speaker's joint presence. But it can usually go deeper than that. You should work from the assumption that both you and your audience are on the same side, both mutually seeking a solution, seeking to learn, to find the benefits of this or that technique. The word is adaptability -- an attribute which any person willing to study human nature can and must develop.
Part of the larger philosophy of speaking from the audience's point of view is through the use of their language. It identifies you with "their side." They will automatically feel more closely in agreement with a person who speaks as one of them. If you are presenting to a group who sells boats using words such as "bow" and "stern" rather than front or back will help establish closeness and unity with your audience. The more you are able to couch your ideas in your audience's terms, the better are your chances of establishing true rapport, and you gain one more advantage in your attempt to hold their attention.
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CEO, A.E. Schwartz & Associates, Boston, MA., a comprehensive organization which offers over 40 skills based management training programs. Mr. Schwartz conducts over 150 programs annually for clients in industry, research, technology, government, Fortune 100/500 companies, and nonprofit organizations worldwide. He is often found at conferences as a key note presenter and/or facilitator. His style is fast-paced, participatory, practical, and humorous. He has authored over 65 books and products, and taught/lectured at over a dozen colleges and universities throughout the United States.