The Difference Between Listening and Hearing

A man listening to a woman speaking

Listening is when you allow other people’s words to go into your ears. Hearing is when you allow their words to go into your heart. You can listen without hearing, but you can’t hear without listening. They both have their place. Sometimes you don’t want other people’s words in your heart—and neither do they. You don’t want words of pain, anger, frustration, irritation in your heart. Sometimes people need to get those words off their chest. So you lend an … Continue reading

Be Quick. Attention Spans are Shrinking.

A goldfish jumping from an empty bowl of water to another with other goldfish

Last year Microsoft released research that impacts everyone who makes presentations, holds meetings, or needs to hold someone else’s attention. Be quick. Attention spans are shrinking. The research shows that the attention span of the average North American has shrunk to eight seconds. Not coincidently that’s about how long a typical soundbite lasts on a network TV news program. Here’s the truly alarming part. In 2000 the average North American had a 12 second attention span. In the late 21st … Continue reading

How to Introduce a Speaker

A man speaking to an audience introducing someone

I have sat in the audience and stood on the stage when the person introducing a guest speaker spoke longer than the speaker. It’s brutal. The audience came to hear the speaker, not the introduction, a long, rambling discourse filled with detours of mispronunciations, stumbles, and an awkward pauses. It doesn’t have to be so hard. A few years ago, I spoke to a group and the individual who introduced me not only used my name a dozen times in … Continue reading

Appearance Either Supports or Becomes Your Message

A man in tights that don't fit doing a dance move

Appearance matters in presentations. It helps to look the part. That doesn’t mean you have to look beautiful. It means you have to look like the message you’re trying to send. If a construction site supervisor shows up in an expensive tuxedo at the job, his crew won’t hear a word he says. Instead they’ll all wonder, “What’s up with him?” If a prima ballerina shows up to opening night looking like a middle age man in leotards well that … Continue reading

Act Quickly. Attention Spans are Shrinking.

A goldfish jumping from an empty bowl of water to another with other goldfish

I recently came across some research on attention spans that shocked me. It essentially says that most of the people in your audience—whether that’s the audience for a keynote, a presentation, a sales pitch, or a meeting—have a shorter attention span than goldfish. Goldfish! Microsoft conducted a research study in 2015 that found the attention span of the average North American has shrunk to eight seconds. That’s down from 12 seconds at the turn of the century. Down from 15 … Continue reading