The ubiquity of cell phones is unavoidable. Expecting audiences to give a speaker their full attention, including eye contact, is a thing of the past. However, do you know what people are actually doing when they’re glued to their cell phones? Are they checking their stock portfolio, texting friends, or visiting Facebook and Instagram? Maybe not.
We’ve polled audiences, and many say they are taking notes; commenting to colleagues on our presentation; or viewing our website and books. When you speak, if you demand that everyone put down their cell phones, you may be missing the mark and offending your audience. But if their lack of attention really bothers you, seek out the friendly faces in the audience for reinforcement.
There are also ways you can compete with the small screen. Include variety– in your movement, tone, and content. Brains need changeup to avoid getting bored. Use a white board, as well as PowerPoint. Draw in your audience, including rhetorical questions and interactive exercises. Make them feel part of the conversation, as opposed to sitting through a lecture. Speak directly to them, not at them. Flex your speaking muscles and win the cell smackdown.