Sat in on two speeches/presentations/lessons/demos this week where the presenter has had a pseudo-rhetorical question that they wanted the audience to pause and reflect on. In one case, there was a talk of focusing in on the meaning and even a mention of closing eyes to aid in the process. In the other, the semantics included meditation. In both cases, it was not at all clear what the presenter really wanted the audience to do, and it was further obfuscated (I LOVE that word!) by the fact that they pressed on with content immediately, and whatever we were supposed to be focusing on was lost in the ramble of the presenter’s voice and more points.When I am in such situations, I usually watch the audience to see what others do. In both these cases, there was confusion and most listeners chose to simply focus at the ground/table/head directly in front of them. Prevented them from having to get involved, which is precisely NOT what the presenter wanted. If you want the audience to close their eyes, say so and pause until they do, then make it really clear when you’ve stopped the exercise. If you want further thought on what you’ve just said, STOP, and provide them the opportunity to think. Don’t move forward. Don’t continue to give your erudite analysis. STOP. If you want the focus on something other than you (like your point), then let the focus move to that, and make it clear when you as the presenter want that focus again. People (and especially men — just ask my lovely bride) typically can’t concentrate on more than one thing at a time.

Make any audience instructions crystal clear. Meditative emphasis requires time.

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