When the Coughs Drop

As a speaker you should be able to sense the level of focus of your listeners.  Before you say they always listen well, I would encourage you to follow this advice.  Try being in the crowd and listening, observing, sensing what is going on around you among the listeners.  If you have the privilege of attending a conference or large Christian event, you should have the privilege of experiencing the crowd from within the crowd with different speakers.

Large crowd events are helpful because the large numbers both multiply and muffle.  That is, in a small group there may be an individual who never listens – proportionately they are more of a small group than they’d be in a big group.  Equally, it is quite the effect to sense distraction spread through a large crowd.  What happens?

Fidget levels increase. It’s amazing how still listeners can be when the preacher captures the crowd.  But when he hasn’t, fidgeting is rife.  Chairs move, people change position, people check their watches, the clock, the window, the people in peripheral vision, etc.

Infectious coughing spreads. I sat in a large crowd tonight (I wrote this a few weeks before it was put on the site), and I listened as the coughing spread across the crowd.  Like dogs barking in a neighborhood, like children crying in a nursery, like coughs among a crowd ready to be done already.  Last night I sat in the same crowd.  You could hear a pin drop.  Did a mass distribution of cough drops make the coughs drop last night?  No, different speaker.

At the first appropriate moment, people flee to the exits. It can be painful to feel trapped in a meeting too long.  How long is too long?  After all, these folks knew when the service would last until.  It was too long when the preacher didn’t connect for too long.

Experience the distraction of the crowd, experience the impressive focus possible.  Then go back to your own preaching.  Try to be accurately aware of the level of attention you hold, and then try to improve it.  Tomorrow I’ll share some reflections on why the distraction levels were so high among the listeners in the meeting I sat in tonight.


One thought on “When the Coughs Drop

  1. So then what to do when you since that you are losing the audience?

    -Shorten things up?
    -Reframe the context of what you are disscussing?
    -Skip extra material?

    It seems like this might be hard to do unless you are a real expert.
    At what point do you feel a speeker should be able to adjust on the fly?
    Right away or only after much practice and experience?

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