Heard a speech today where the presenter directed the audience to close their eyes to focus on a particular action item. In this case, it was an effective touch. I’ve seen it done well, and seen it done not so well.The key elements to a successful applicaiton like this is to make sure your audience knows exactly what they are to do, and have timing such that there isn’t any down time or awkward silence (unless that’s the point). In this case, when it’s time to open eyes, it should be clearly stated as such. Instead of the free “think about some a place you like to go” it should be specific, along the lines of “I’d like you to remember a place where you went shopping in the past week and remember how long you stood in line at the checkout.” If you’re conducting an icebreaker, make sure they have clear directions and know when they’re done. Don’t give them a chance to wander into areas you can’t control.You certainly cannot control the listener’s mind, and many will daydream no matter how good you are (but the better you are, the less they’ll daydream, to be sure!). But there is no reason to invite a diversion or essentially give them permission (and a reason) not to participate.

When giving the listener something to do or think about, make sure you are specific and guide the exercise.

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