The Pitch Doctor is IN
Real Business magazine have published the first of my brand new regular column, "Ask the Pitch Doctor", where I'll be answering readers' questions about a broad range of pitching and presentation issues.
The first question dealt with a specific example of a very common problem, how to get the audience to put down their Blackberries or laptops or other distractions and pay attention. On the face of it, it's an easy problem to address, but it actually raises two deeper issues.
The first of these is the presenter's perception that a distracted audience is a personal insult.
The second is the presenter's perception that a distracted audience is a bad thing.
If you can put your hand on your heart and say that you've never been distracted during a meeting, you've never daydreamed or made a mental list of things you have to do after the meeting, then by all means, be critical of a distracted audience. In this day and age, the pace of work and the confusion that arises from having your attention pulled in so many different directions means that watching your pitch with wide eyes and a fixed grin may not be the most important thing. Maybe making the most of what attention you do have is the key.
Performers such as stage hypnotists have long known that a distracted audience is a susceptible audience. Just check out this video if you doubt the power of distraction, or as the scientists call it, selective attention.
Whether you're distracted by counting basket balls or a new text message, the result is the same. Your conscious filters are down and you're susceptible to influence.
You can find out more about this in The Pitching Bible. For now, just ponder the question; what external forces have influenced you today while you've been reading a text, thinking about your shopping list or even reading this blog post?