Have you ever presented and found somebody in the audience to be so disinterested in your presentation that it distracted you? Conversely, have you ever been so uninterested in a topic that you found yourself fidgeting?
How did you feel in both of those situations? Chances are it was the same- frustrated. You were frustrated for different reasons. In the former, it was because you could not give the presentation in the manner that you wanted to because one person derailed your energy and focus. In the later situation, you were frustrated that there were a million other things you could be doing instead of listening to that particular presenter.
This frustration leads to disrespect. And once there is a lack of respect between team members, the team never performs at an optimum level until it gets ironed out. So how do you keep yourself from being distracted/the distractor in a meeting?
- Presenters need to stay focused on the people who are engaged. While it is true that you should try to make eye contact with every person in the room, ignoring the disinterested ones will help you stay focused.
- Presenters need to stay upbeat. Your energy and enthusiasm cannot be compromised as it ends up ruining your presentation. A byproduct of your excitement may be getting that person on board with your topic.
- Audience members need to focus on their notepad. It is amazing how many lists you can generate that help organize your thoughts when you are in a presentation that is not interesting to you.
- Audience members need to “look through” the presenter. Again, you can be in deep thought while the presenter is in their mode, just give them the courtesy of looking at them.
- Audience members need to bury their phones. Reading emails, sending texts, and other phone activities distract not just the presenter but also other audience members.
Being engaged during a presentation that you are disinterested in is a skill that everyone needs to develop. It avoids you being labeled as disrespectful and avoids unnecessary conflict. You also need to learn to present through adversity- a bored audience member should never derail you.