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"Visual terrorists"

Whoever interferes will be our advantage!

"Visual terrorists" can appear just out of the blue. In his book "Kama sutra for a speaker", Radislav Gandapas, in my opinion, the best public speaking trainer, gives a real example: while he was conducting a training session there appeared a window washer, attached to a safety rope. The windows were mirrorlike, so the washer could not see the interior and he was busy doing his job. Needless to say, all the participants concentrated their attention on him.

Such distracting events are called "visual terrorists".

How should one deal with those?

The best way out is to "legalize" the terrorist by including him in your story. The aforementioned Radislav writes in his book that he introduced the window washer as his assistant visualizing distraction of attention, and he got rid of the terrorist by just drawing down the curtain.

A petty "terrorist" like a paper plane launched by a participant may be overlooked but if it didn't pass unnoticed, you may tell them "to ask questions after the speech".

Anyways, it's important to keep cool and maintain respect to the audience.

But "terrorists" are not always outsiders. You may unwillingly let the "terrorist" in your presentation. A too vivid and emotionally strong image may distract the audience and linger on. So try not to use too flashy pictures if such are not directly related to the subject.

I have recently observed a man speaking about traffic video monitoring systems and showing terrific car accidents as an example. The subject of his report was identification of the guilty in an accident, but the examples given were so ghastly that the audience was no more interested in the subject but was digesting the spine-chilling pictures. You should be more accurate with this.

However, we know some example where such harmful phenomenon was turned to advantage.

When Winston Churchill's political opponents were giving speeches in the British Parliament, he lit the longest cigar he could find and slowly smoke it. As the speech went on, Churchill continued to puff on his cigar, and soon attention was no longer on the speaker but on Churchill's cigar, as the ash did not fall. The enchantment could last up to an hour and longer. They say Churchill used to stick a secret steel pin in the cigar to keep ash from falling. That's how he could hold attention of the audience.

Now we know the "visual terrorism" phenomenon. If "terrorists" emerge we fight them and don't let them in, and tame them for our own benefit if possible.

Andrey Skvortsov
CEO, Mercator group


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