If They’re Not Interested – Who Cares?

Who cares what you have to say?  Does your audience?  While coaching an executive last week, this issue arose.  He felt that his audience didn’t care about the material he was presenting, which in turn impacted the way he was presenting it.  It’s a vicious cycle.  As communicators, we seek to engage our listeners.  But sometimes (or even often times) we perceive apathy or disinterest from our audience.  Herein lies the challenge for all communicators.  We look for attentive eyes, nodding heads, welcoming smiles, and undistracted behaviors to clue us in on whether or not we’re connecting with our audience.  Unfortunately, there are many times we don’t find what we’re looking for.

Distracted audienceAudience challenges abound:  Apathy, disinterest, distractions. Bert wrote about distractions emerging in social media, specifically regarding the use of backchannels (here on Twitter, and here on Chris Brogan’s approach to Backnoise).  In both of these posts (as in all obstacles interfering with engaging your listeners) is a fundamental truth – the communicator is responsible for the communications experience.  When you present your message to an audience, you are the conductor.  You lead.  It’s your job to create the environment in which participants are most likely to listen, engage and absorb.  You provoke connection.  You motivate your audience to care.  Your job doesn’t change when an audience is unresponsive, distracted or uninterested.

Who cares about your message?  You do!  And it’s your responsibility to inspire your listeners to join you.  Don’t let disinterest or distraction deter you from your job, rather, take charge of your communications experience.  When you lead your listeners with confident communication skills, authentic enthusiasm and infectious energy, you can convert apathy into action.

Photo credit: AuntieMabel

5 comments on “If They’re Not Interested – Who Cares?

  1. Josh, Jeff, Steve & John-

    Thanks for the responses.

    It’s on all of ‘us’ to practice what we preach. :-)
    Keep that energy and enthusiasm coming. It continues to be amazing how many executives we work with – the fear of being ‘that sales guy’ with their energy – or somehow over the top.

    Yet…they never overdo it. Powerful to know how you come across, and the difference it makes to get your audience engaged.

    More to come… and thanks again! Happy Holidays.

    Ben

  2. Ben,

    “When you present your message to an audience, you are the conductor. You lead. It’s your job to create the environment in which participants are most likely to listen, engage and absorb. You provoke connection. You motivate your audience to care.”

    I couldn’t agree more. It is the speaker’s job to engage the audience.

    “When you lead your listeners with confident communication skills, authentic enthusiasm and infectious energy, you can convert apathy into action.”

    Enthusiasm and infectious energy are important, but it takes more than that to make the audience care. As a speaker, it’s your job to make the audience see why the information is important to them, how it will help them and why they need to listen to what you have to say.

    Once you help them to understand why the information is important to them, your enthusiasm and energy will matter more.

  3. Straight UP, man. Thanks for this post.

    Today, thanks to some aggressive responses on my blog and on Twitter, I learned that when I question the value and informed use of backchannels that there will be hell to pay.

    Still, I feel this is a fight worth the strain.

    Some people, presenters and audinece members alike, think that backchannels are just a thing to always provide and encourage and put up on a screen behind the presenter, because backchannels are modern and people are engaged in it – “They like it, therefore I must provide it.”

    Attention is a limited resource.

  4. Good stuff Ben.

    I agree with Josh that authentic, sincere and passionate communication will keep people engaged. If the presenter is not passionate about their message, the audience wil be bored. Create contagious enthusiasm and your audience will spread the message virally.

  5. “Authentic enthusiasm and infectious energy” are a great way to get people engaged. If you are passionate about your communications, your audiance will feel it and respond.

    Thanks for the post!

    Josh