Wednesday, December 23, 2009

What Having Fun Has To Do With Body Language.

John Rawlings Revlon Advertisement.
Whenever I sit in a meeting and watch someone droning on and on I always think to myself "why isn't this speaker noticing that we're bored?"
When the client checks their watch, yawns, or looks at the door repeatedly I think "wrap it up, we're losing them, abort mission, mayday mayday!" and then I try to tell them by opening my eyes wide to finish up.  A lot of the time the speaker doesn't take my cue because they aren't paying attention to cues at all otherwise the client checking the watch thing might have gotten their attention 10 minutes ago.
Now NPR has an article that we can discreetly send to "meeting droners" about how people feel like they are having fun if time has seemingly flown by.  In other words, when you think you spent an hour in a meeting but it was really only 30 minutes people decide that they must have had fun.

You might think that being entertained isn't the goal of a meeting or even your job but if people are bored they not only leave your meeting without retaining anything but they also eventually leave their job.

To summarize the article, Sackett (the psychology researcher) says the study could be interpreted like this:
Here's one implication: People often lament that a holiday or vacation is over too soon: It seemed to fly by so fast! "My research findings, however, suggest that once people are back home, the fact that they felt that time flew during their vacation is likely to increase their remembered enjoyment of the experience," Sackett notes. "Thus, while the end of a vacation may be bittersweet, the faster it comes, the more pleasant we'll remember the vacation as being."

So how can we use this study to make our meetings seem like more fun?  Don't let people get to the point where they are bored enough to notice every second passing.   Even if it means cutting your earth shatteringly interesting talk short. If you're losing people, they are going to associate you with feelings of boredom and that's never a good way to win business or fans.  Also, this article would suggest telling your audience that a meeting will last 30 minutes and then end it after 20  - an easy enough "jedi mind trick" to pull of at the beginning of every meeting.


Blogger Royce said...

Ok, I can get behind ending a meeting in 20 minutes that's supposed to go 30.

Here's a question for you - what if you can't end the meeting early, but you DO need to stop lecturing? What would you shift your presentation to, if you feel you're boring your audience? What's your backup plan to get them involved and not noticing the time passing?

December 23, 2009 at 9:52 AM  
Blogger Caitlin said...

When I absolutely have to get the whole thing out I have a go to trick that I use all the time.
Ask questions so that clients / audience's have to talk.
For example - What social media ideas have you tried?
What's the coolest social media campaign you've seen out there?
These are questions that generally garner quite a bit of talking and conversation. It can really help break up a speech or presentation.

December 23, 2009 at 12:25 PM  

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