Want the audience’s undivided attention? Earn it.

Yesterday morning I was asked a great question by an audience member at my presentation to the New England Professional Products Association, “What do you do about audience members – particularly in a small sales meeting – looking at their smart phones instead of paying attention to you?”  My immediate answer, email the client ahead of time and request their full attention so that they can make a well informed decision, was a bad one.

If we want the audience’s attention, be it one person, eight people or eight hundred, we must earn it.  How?  First, we must do the hard work to make sure we are speaking directly to their needs and interests.  In a sales meeting this is a matter of asking the right questions, asking thoughtful follow up questions, listening carefully to the answers and then coming up with solutions.

We must work tirelessly to insure that our meetings are so completely customer focused that they can’t help but give us their undivided attention.  I always say every audience member is like every 15 year old you’ve ever known in your whole entire life; they only care about themselves.  In a sales meeting it’s their job to care about themselves.  (As an audience member at a conference or other event it’s their natural point of reference.) It’s our job to focus on them.  The more diligently and accurately we do that the more they’ll reward us with their attention. And we’ll be heard.

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