January 24, 2006 Present Like A Pro Newsletter
Inspiring You to Discover, Develop, & Delight in Your Strengths
Welcome fellow speaker! This newsletter from Present Like A Pro is here to provide you with on-going tips and inspiration as you develop your skills as a speaker. In every issue are practical tools that you can use in your next presentation.

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This edition: 1,081 words; 2-3 minute read

Sorry, I Was Distracted
by Sara Schaffer   Keeping Your Audience (& Yourself) Focused
It was strange to suddenly hear a baby crying in a nursing home. I was in the middle of my talk when the little one began wailing from the balcony area above the meeting room. Heads turned, and I was suddenly speaking to myself.

Distractions are a reality when we speak. There is rarely a time when absolutely everything will go smoothly. Here are 4 suggestions of how to keep your listeners and yourself focused as you Present Like A Pro!

1. Know your stuff. The better you know your presentation, the more flexible you can be. When the baby began to cry, I was at my first critical point. However, I knew I’d revisit it later in my talk. When I did, I put extra emphasis on that idea for those who had been sidetracked earlier.

2. Be aware. Even worse than an audience being completely distracted is a speaker who doesn’t notice! Pay attention in case you do need to modify or interrupt your presentation. It may be appropriate at times to even acknowledge the diversion with a humorous comment.

3. Make eye contact. As soon as I find myself sidetracked, I begin to purposefully look at my listeners. Even if no one is looking at you, deliberately stay connected to them. This will cause the least disruption to your talk and keep you on track as well.

4. Keep going. Most importantly, don’t panic. If you get flustered, just take a deep breath. Quickly check your notes or presentation slides. Think about what you will say next. Then, look out to your audience and keep going.


To find out more about keeping your listeners' attention, check out our great CD on Storytelling Tips, or sign up for personalized presentation coaching. Also, please visit us at www.presentlikeapro.com for more speaking tips and resources!


The baby crying was a surprise, but not the last distraction. Several minutes later, residents of the nursing home began walking by the meeting area. Heads turned, and again I felt like I was talking to myself.

I looked at my listeners and made eye contact with those who were still facing me. I also knew I didn’t need to stop for this interruption, so I continued on. Thanks to knowing my talk well, I was able to keep my focus. Before long, I also had the attention of my audience. When you keep yourself and your listeners focused, you Present Like A Pro!

Graciously Greeting The Audience
  Accepting Compliments, Criticisms, & Off-beat Comments
As I shook her hand, the woman told me I had to meet her friend. In moments, another woman was standing in front of me. “Tell her the story! Tell her the story!” the first woman insisted. Somewhat embarrassed, but not enough to be deterred, the second gal launched into part of her life story.

I realized that night that even part of a life story can be quite long.

As I listened, I noticed the line growing behind them. I wondered what the big moment was going to be. As she reached the pinnacle of her story, thankfully her friend was there to cue me to be amazed. Otherwise, I may have missed it entirely. I smiled, and the ladies moved on as they continued to discuss this unbelievable experience.

Since then, I have learned to more graciously meet and greet my audiences.

For the most part, I receive positive comments. Some people share how I have helped them. Others will reach out for a hug or a hand to hold for a moment. Most often people say a simple, “Thank you for your talk.”

Those comments help to balance the others that I also inevitably receive.

“Why didn’t you talk about [my personal agenda] today?” When individuals approach me with these infrequent requests, I now know to just let those comments go. If appropriate, I will try to direct them to the meeting planner and/or other resources. Then I say a simple, “Thank you for being here,” and shift my focus to the person behind them in line.

In life, not just in greeting lines, I’m learning to shift my focus to more positive people.

Unlike when I first started speaking, I do not spend extra time listening to negative critiques or getting caught up in lengthy life stories. Instead I validate and thank each person. I look them in the eyes and share a smile.

It’s amazing how much can be shared in such simple gestures.

The next time you have an opportunity to meet your listeners, get ready to shake hands and smile. It is very rewarding to greet an audience when you fully focus on each person as they are in front of you.

The more I learn to see and listen to each person, the more fulfilling my overall speaking experience becomes.

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Special Offers
Need A Speaker? In addition to presentation coaching, Sara regularly speaks to corporate and community groups. Whether you are looking for something educational, motivational or inspirational, she will add humor and depth to your next special event. For booking information, contact Sara today at: 303-818-2509 or sara@presentlikeapro.com.

Do you work at Ball Aerospace? If so, you can receive Presentation Coaching as part of the training offered by your company! Find out more at the Coaching Corner on the TLC website.

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