Blame the Internet, Nintendo, or global warming but I believe Audience Attention Deficit Disorder (AADD) spawns from gluttony. Multi-tasking audiences want their popcorn, candy, soda, exercise, health, wealth, and vitamins, too, all while being entertained and getting their cars washed. You can deliver a peppy presentation and avoid a catatonic crowd by answering the following question:

What does your audience want from you?
___ To be trained
___ To be informed
___ To be persuaded
___ To be entertained
_X_ All of the above

Being aware of what your audience wants and knowing the type of people who are staring at you is essential. This information will tip the knowledge scales in your direction so you, too, can check off “All of the above.”

Make Them Care
Perhaps you recently published a book. Hurray for you. Nobody really cares until you explain why they need your book and how it is better than any other book available at Barnes and Noble, Borders, or Amazon. Even though people might have read a flier, signed up for the meeting, or were personally invited to hear you speak, your job is to capture and maintain their interest.

Start by stating the purpose of your speech. Obvious? Maybe. But once you step outside of the secure Toastmasters environment and present in public forums you’ll encounter last minute walk-ins, guests of attendees, employees at the meeting place, and other impromptu visitors who may not be as forgiving as your fellow Toastmaster members.

Design your presentation to fit the age, gender, occupation, and education level of the audience. Help make the connection between your subject and your listeners’ point of view so that they will understand and care.

For example, if you were giving a talk on how to spend twenty dollars, your approach would differ depending on the most prevalent age group in your audience:

Senior: Twenty dollars can pay for an early bird dinner special
Adult: Andrew Jackson will buy you four gallons of gas
Teenager: You and a friend can see a movie matinee for twenty bucks
Child: Buy a candy bar and invest the rest for your college tuition

AADD can challenge even the most experienced presenter, but I challenge you to take a few minutes to get to know your audience and what they want to hear. When you do, you’ll keep their attention for your entire presentation.

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