December 7, 2007

Who's in the room?



Rhett Laubach posted a nice overview of how to read your audience members and how best to connect with them, based on their motivations for being there.

"Hostage Harriet" is particularly challenging; here's an excerpt:

"I am here because I was forced to be here. I didn't have a choice. If I had a choice, I would certainly choose to be somewhere else.

How to Spot Me - Arms crossed. No eye contact. No response to questions. I might be abrasive or disruptive, but not necessarily."

I'm sure we're all familiar with and perplexed by this character!

As I said to Rhett after reading this, some of the most seemingly disinterested people in my presentations have turned out to be the most grateful and friendly at the end. Sometimes you just can't tell what someone is thinking, even if they're not making eye contact and they appear hostile.

Maybe they're distracted by personal issues. Maybe they didn't sleep well and are struggling to stay awake. Maybe they learn better by listening, and eye contact distracts them.

I've found that by giving everyone in the room the same level of energy - and not taking it personally when someone doesn't appear to be paying attention - I still manage to reach those who seem unreachable.

Take a few minutes to check out Rhett's post, and see if you can't relate to his audience member profiles!

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2 comments. Please add yours! :

Matthew Cornell said...

Great topic. I found myself in this situation, and I was shocked. How could grown adults commit to a class, then TALK DURING IT!? I was able to diplomatically control it, but whew!

I've heard this breakdown re: attendees: There are three reasons people come; by type:

o 'students': genuine interest in increasing knowledge and skills
o 'vacationers': welcome break from daily routine ("How much time for lunch?")
o 'hostages': required to attend

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Matt, check out my series on Adult Learning Principles:
http://coachlisab.blogspot.com/search/label/Adult%20Learning%20Principles%20series

There are so many barriers and motivators to learning for adults!

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