Speakers, turn ‘interruptions’ into opportunities

Someone might say something to you during a speech. If you’re in the proper mindset, it can lead you to better communication of your message and greater rapport with your audience.

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He came to our training session well prepared. Not only had he thought through his entire presentation, completed his PowerPoint slides, and drafted his handouts, but he had also practiced the speech aloud numerous times. He took this assignment seriously, and it showed.

But when he stood up to practice his speech, I tried to throw him off. The resulting conversation produced an “ah-ha!” moment for me.

Here’s what threw him off: I raised my hand to ask a question in middle of his introduction. That clearly flustered him. He stammered for a few moments, then regained his composure and said, “I’ll get to questions a little later.”

When he concluded his talk and we debriefed about that moment, he said, “It really threw me off when you interrupted me with a question.”

That word—interrupted—struck me like a lightning bolt. It offered me a fascinating insight into how he had approached his presentation (as a monologue), and it told me everything I needed to know about the hazards he had created for himself by practicing so diligently.

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