Platform Artists: How Has Your Audience Changed?
If you educate, sitting in on seminars is an experience I highly recommend. This past show season I took in as many classes as possible and came away with one big message: the audience has changed, it is younger, techy, empowered, and has a shorter attention span.
Well-meaning, fabulous educators failed to play to attention spans that are shorter and falling. Keeping today’s learner attention is challenging consequently, if you represent a product, moving them to action is even tougher. Lack of awareness of today’s learner spells poor preparation.
Knowing a skill inside/out does not make any one of us an educator. Lack of preparation, not breaking down a concept to present in its simplest form, is such a preventable mistake. Remember, you teach to the lowest denominator and move along to advanced concepts.
No matter how sold out or packed your room is, don’t let it go to your head. The audience is there because they want to learn. They want to work and be like you. Honor them with perfectly sequenced concepts and they will worship you on bended knee.
Passionate, lengthy explanations are attention busters (sorry). A person's brain can only hold two to three concepts at a time. (Psychologists tell us). Once you hit the twenty-minute mark without somehow letting the audience participate, you lost them. This is what I am working on for myself:
A. Teach bite size pieces. Stop. Play with the audience. I am down to about four to six minutes speaking, before I turn the tables on the learners and ask them to participate in some way. During your preparation, break the concept down to its simplest forms. When you think you got it, break it down more, and then do it again.
B. Spotlight Your Audience Always follow concepts with activity for learners to practice the concept. Ask them to draw the technique, ask them to explain it to the person sitting next to them, ask for volunteers, create games, etc. Activities must be relevant to your audience's age group and level, nothing too complicated for beginners or too silly for advanced learners.
Your classes will be unforgettable when you teach simple concepts and share the spotlight with your learners.
Carlos Valenzuela is a consultant, stylist, trainer and author. [email protected]