Tips for Talks and Lessons #3: Overcome Boredom with Variety

You cannot teach anything unless you capture and maintain the listeners’ attention. This is the first rule of communication.

Maintain Interest: Overcome the Propensity for Boredom

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Humans have a great capacity for boredom.

For example, in high school I was fed the same dinner three times a week at a private restaurant where I worked. It was: succulent prime rib, baked potato with rich cheddar sauce, and a crisp salad. After a few months, I unsuccessfully begged for a hamburger.  After two years, I never ate prime rib again.

Teachers and speakers must be aware of our propensity for boredom and prepare to overcome it. Most listeners have limited attention spans.   As a rule, if the listeners are bored, it is the teacher’s/speaker’s fault.

The key to maintaining interest can be summarized in one word: variety. 

Variety of Material

Speakers and teachers should use a variety of material. A good example is Thomas Monson, a very popular speaker, who used a wide variety of material in every talk.

  • Scriptures
  • Short quotations
  • Short stories
  • Anecdotes (happy, funny, poignant, sad)
  • One-liners
  • Personal experiences
  • Poetry
  • Testimony

Variety of Delivery

The speaker/teacher should also vary their delivery.

  • Voice inflections (volume, tempo, pitch)
  • Gestures
  • Facial expressions
  • Eye contact
  • Pauses

Variety of Visual Aids and Props

Use a variety of visual aids, DVD’s, multi-media, and/or props. I know teachers who sometimes wear costumes to class, capturing the students’ interest and creating lasting memories.

Use Humor

Nothing wins attention like a good joke. Students listen to teachers who know how to incorporate humor into their material. Joke about yourself, the weather, the irony of a concept…anything can work.”

Professor Henry Eyring Sr. explained, “In teaching the gospel, some gentle good humor seems to help the true principles stick in the heart and mind.  My foibles are so naturally comical that I don’t seem to have any trouble in this regard.” (Reflections of a Scientist, p 2)

       

(www.londonedition.net)

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