April 13, 2010

Write this down!

Download audio here.

One of my pet peeves with speakers is when they treat the audience like children. When they act like they're the only one in the room who knows anything and feel like they have to hold my hand through their presentation.

Case in point: A speaker who says "Write this down!"

When someone says "Write this down," I instinctively refuse to write it down. I think I know enough about myself, my needs and my interests, that I can determine for myself what notes to take during a presentation.

I get that this speaker is trying to make sure he has my attention, just in case I'm drifting off as he gets to one of his main points, but telling me what to do is not the way to get my attention back. If he's lost it, there's a reason, and he might want to explore his other speaking techniques before barking orders at me.

Be very careful with gimmicky approaches like "Write this down," or "How's everybody today? I can't HEAR you!" and similar patronizing remarks. Audiences don't want to be manipulated. They don't want to be yelled at. And they don't want to be treated like five-year-olds.

Treat me like an adult; assume I'm able to make good judgements for myself based on my lifetime of knowledge and experience. Find better ways to get and keep my attention that are relevant and engaging, not artificial and stagey.

Thank you.

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4 comments. Please add yours! :

Unknown said...

Nothing makes me clam up more than "I can't hear you."

The poor speaker usually gets a dirty look & a snort of disdain for this effort.

I don't mean to be mean, but honestly. If you're going to treat me like an idiot, I'm probably going to return the insult.

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Sadly, I think a lot of audience members go along with these shenanigans, because they feel intimidated! Or they participate halfheartedly because they feel sorry for the goof. Either way, the speaker ends up thinking this shtick works. Boo.

Sandra said...

I totally disagree with you. One of the best speaker/ trainer that I know will often tell people to write this down this is a critical point. The reason being that no matter how great the speaker is people’s attention can wander and if this is something that you do not want them to miss a great idea.

In addition, I think adults should be treated more like children and have fun when they learn rather than take themselves so seriously about the learning process. Rather than what usually happens is that you have the adult who feels that they know it all and they are unwilling to try new learning techniques.

The best speakers out there are able to make learning fun and engaging

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Sandra, making learning fun and engaging is a core belief of mine. I write about it regularly on this blog and make it a huge part of my trainings. However, I don't think telling people to "write this down" is fun or engaging. I want my audiences to have a good time like children, but I don't believe they should be talked down to like children.

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