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Opening Keynote

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Conquering Audience Resistance - Opening Keynote

Noted speaker, author, and High Point University president Nido Qubien has observed that "Barriers resulting from audience resistance fall into two categories: external factors that cause people to tune you out, and internal factors that prevent them from giving you their complete attention."

1) External Barriers
People often form first impressions on the basis of external factors, says Qubien. "If the first impression is negative, you won't get the person's attention. Look for characteristics of dress, speech and actions that may be turning people off. If your dress is too casual, frivolous or distracting, you may be losing listeners. If your voice is strident, shrill or guttural, people may find you unpleasant to listen to. In certain areas, regional accents may turn people off. If you speak with a pronounced regional accent and are doing business in a region where that accent is not commonly heard, you may have to look for ways to overcome this barrier. You may want to work on acquiring a more generic accent. Or you may want to spend some time cultivating the person's confidence."

2) Internal Barriers
"Internal barriers to communication may stem from a lack of interest in what you're saying or a lack of understanding," he says. "If you discern a lack of interest, find some way to lead your listener to identify with your message. How does it concern your listener personally? What bearing does it have on the listener's job, income, health, family, or security? Once you establish that point of identity, you'll have attention."

In conclusion, "People have a way of erecting defense mechanisms and emotional barriers when they feel threatened by what you are saying or by the way you are saying it," notes Qubien. "Studies have repeatedly shown that people, like other creatures, feel protective of their territories. Invade those turfs, or act in a threatening manner, and you will be sure to turn off their attention. When your task is to deliver an unpleasant message or to persuade your listener to take some unpleasant action, look for ways to neutralize the negatives and to reassure the person who feels threatened."

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