Distraction Theory

Last week we had a visit from our nephew Cody and his wife Carly. Their two daughters Harper (aged 8) and Vivian (aged 3) are boisterous, thrilling and exhausting. When we wanted to catch up with their parents, Deborah dusted off her expertise in hosting sleepovers for girls.

When Vivian exploded in tears, Deborah directed her to a nearby plastic dinosaur and asked about their family. If impatient on a hike, Deborah would instigate a rock-throwing competition. And when Vivian was told to “settle down”, Deborah played catch using her stuffed animal-- anything to change the channel and re-focus the little one’s attention.

We call Deborah’s secret weapon distraction theory, but it can also serve you in preparing and delivering a presentation. For example, when rehearsing, begin with your closing and work backwards... Incorporate props—so the audience can visualize your concept in a unique way… In the middle of your talk, make your PowerPoint go black, move to a white board and sketch out ideas... Or, survey the audience or ask them a specific question. By incorporating different elements and strategies, you will keep yourself and the audience from getting bored. Sameness or uniformity is deadly. Variety is supreme.

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